• CUB's Abbotsford Brewery head brewer Sarah Laing and Wimmera barley farmer John Bennett - working with Asahi Beverages and its initiative to purchase barley direct from farmers.
    CUB's Abbotsford Brewery head brewer Sarah Laing and Wimmera barley farmer John Bennett - working with Asahi Beverages and its initiative to purchase barley direct from farmers.
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Asahi Beverages has implemented its initiative to purchase barley direct from farmers. The scheme was announced in March, with Carlton Draught, Victoria Bitter and other iconic beers now brewed with 100 per cent Victorian barley purchased directly from local farmers. 

Asahi Beverages has implemented its initiative to purchase barley direct from farmers. The scheme was announced in March, with Carlton Draught, Victoria Bitter and other iconic beers now brewed with 100 per cent Victorian barley purchased directly from local farmers. 

Asahi Beverages restructured its barley supply chain in March and removed intermediaries such as bulk grain handlers. Following its acquisition of Carlton & United Breweries (CUB) last year, Asahi merged its alcohol businesses under the CUB name. Beers brewed with barely that has been sourced from Wimmera and Mallee farms in Victoria are now rolling off the line at the Abbotsford Brewery in Melbourne. 

Head brewer Sarah Laing said any Abbotsford brewed beer directly supports farmers and sustainable practice. 

“We buy 30,000 tonnes of barley each year for Abbotsford and, barring natural disasters such as a drought, our barley will only be purchased direct from Victorian farms from now on. Fresh, local and delicious, it doesn’t get much better than that,” said Laing. 

To deliver this program, Asahi has partnered with supply chain managers Origin Trail and Pure Grain, with more than over 30 farmers signing up. 

Under the old supply chain, farmers would sell barley grain to bulk grain handlers who would store it all together. This would make quality tracing difficult as grains from hundreds of different farmers would be mixed before reaching Abbotsford. 

Now each grain to be traced back to the source, with the added bonus of payments that would normally go to bulk handlers going directly to farmers. 

The model will allow for a better understanding of variables that influence barely quality and will also monitor agricultural inputs to help Asahi achieve its sustainability goals, Laing said.

“Farmers can access our experience and over time we can collect long-term data to help them grow the best crops possible, not just for our use but for them to sell to other buyers.” 

Wimmera barley farmer John Bennett, working directly with CUB.

To celebrate the new beer coming off the line, Laing travelled to Wimmera to give some personalised slabs of commemorative Carlton Draught John Bennett – the farmer who grew the barley used in it. 

Wimmera farmer John Bennett said it is great to directly work with brewers. 

“It feels very rewarding to drink a Carlton Draught knowing the grain for that exact beer was grown in our paddock and has come full circle. 

“This direct purchase model not only benefits farmers but the communities we live in too,”  said Bennett. 

Asahi’s direct-purchase program recently expanded to Queensland and NSW, the company has plans to expand the program to its smaller breweries such as Cascade in Hobart.

 

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