• PURE Grain Network CEO Stuart Tighe and barley farmer Andrew Ostwald. (Source: Asahi Beverages)
    PURE Grain Network CEO Stuart Tighe and barley farmer Andrew Ostwald. (Source: Asahi Beverages)

Asahi Beverages has expanded its initiative to buy barley direct from farmers, with seven New South Wales growers now supplying the company’s Yatala brewery. Yatala is Australia’s largest brewery, producing VB, Carlton Dry and Pure Blonde.

In March, Asahi announced it was restructuring its barley supply chain, removing bulk handlers from the process and allowing brewers to work directly with growers.

The scheme kicked off the following month, with Victorian farmers in the Wimmera and Mallee regions supplying the company’s CUB brewery in Abbotsford, Melbourne.

The move means Asahi Beverages will now buy up to 40,000 tonnes of barley direct from NSW every year to supply the Yatala brewery.

Yatala’s brewing manager Garry Menz said the direct purchase agreement allowed Asahi to trace its grain back to the farm where it was grown. Under the old model, farmers sold their grain to bulk handlers who stored it all together, meaning the barley used for brewing was potentially from hundreds of different farms.

“Our brewing team can now track the barley from New South Wales farms while ensuring farmers get additional payments that otherwise would have gone to the bulk handlers. This allows Asahi to secure a direct supply chain for one of our most important ingredients and allows us to trace how the barley will perform.

“We can monitor farming processes and our long-term commitment gives each grower the confidence and financial security to invest in new technology and make improvements in farming sustainability and efficiency. This is collaborative cultivation and food production at its best.”

North Star farmer Andrew Ostwald has signed up and his barley is now earmarked for use in one of Australia’s most popular beers.

“The barley from my property will be used to brew Victoria Bitter that’s enjoyed across Australia and beyond,” Ostwald said.

“The opportunity to tap into a direct deal with a brewing giant such as Asahi Beverages is an enormous leg up for Australian barley growers. By simply removing a layer between the grower and the brewer we can then invest the financial gain into the long-term partnership with Asahi.  We’re now in the unique position to afford and plan upgrades to technology, machinery and people.

“This deal puts growers back in the driver’s seat, allowing us to do what we do best – grow great barley! You can guess what beer I’ve now got in the fridge!”

The scheme also means agricultural inputs such as water usage can be monitored, helping Asahi achieve its sustainability targets.

Supply chain managers PURE Grain Network will support Asahi Beverages in delivering the new program at the Yatala Brewery. CEO Stuart Tighe said, “Our relationship across the brewing industry from farmer, maltster and brewer is unique within the Australian grains industry.

“An agreement such as this creates a more resilient farming process. By working with Asahi Beverages, we can improve farming productivity and lessen environmental impacts. It’s a significant shot in the arm for the regional communities our growers operate in.

“It’s a win-win. Grain growers get the additional income that would otherwise have gone to the bulk handlers and Asahi Beverages gets clear sight of the growing process to ensure only the best, sustainably grown barley is used.”

There are plans to expand the program to Asahi Beverages’ smaller breweries such as Cascade in Hobart.

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