USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) statistics estimate drawdowns on the on EU barley crop (of malting quality) to 10.05m tonnes in 2010, compared with 14.45m in 2009.
The perfect storm?
Reasons for the output decline include heavy rain that hit production in Germany, Scandinavia and Eastern Europe, the Russian heatwave that hit production by 50% and led to a barley export ban, US production declines and a wet Canadian harvest.
But the bad news didn’t end there, as Jolande de Ridder, Kerry Ingredients & Flavours EMEA marketing manager for beverages explained:
“Energy costs from malting have also risen compared to 2009, though still not quite at the highs of 2008, and malting capacity is not being fully utilised, especially in Europe. All of these factors have the overall effect of reducing supply volume.”
Kevin Baker from beverage industry research specialists Canadean told FoodNavigator.com that barley shortages would clearly lead to increased costs for brewers, but said one way for them to cope was to reduce barley content as a percentage of the mass used in brewing, given that most firms don’t use 100% barley in any case.
Enzymes to boost yields
Given the ‘perfect storm’ hitting barley beer production, and worries about barley supply, cost and quality, Kerry is aiming to capitalise by offering manufacturers value-added products to increase output.
The ingredients giant has just completed in-house research on Canadian malted barley from 2010, which it said indicated a high beta-glucan content as against the 2009 yield: 0.54% dry as against 0.23% for 2009 malt.
High levels of beta-glucan (polysaccharides) can impair mash or beer filtration, causing a distinctive ‘beta-glucan haze’, said Kerry, due to insufficient hydrolysis (decomposition of a chemical compound on contact with water) during mashing, which is important in high level barley adjunct brewing, where adjunct are unmalted grains that supplement main mash ingredients such as barley.
Last November, Kerry launched its Bioglucanase enzyme range to hydrolyse malt/barley beta-glucan, and the firm said trial using 150g/tonne decreased beta-glucan levels, lowered product viscosity and increased extraction rates.
For instance, specific variety Bioglucanase HAB is designed for ‘high level’ barley adjunct brewing (where 90% barley is used in the mash) and Kerry said its new trials showed yield improvements of 1-2%, and reduced brewhouse costs by 0.4%.