The Irish Grain Growers Group (IGGG) will stage again another demonstration on Monday, December 4, outside Guinness’ St. James’s Gate brewery in Dublin, Ireland. Last week more than 70 farmers already attended a protest outside Boortmalt’s premises in Athy, Co Kildare.
Malting barley growers claim that they cannot meet their costs and will go out of business unless they can attain a price of €200 per ton. “The rest of the supply chain is getting 70%, excluding the tax element. A minimum of €200/t is needed for brewing-malting barley to be grown sustainably. A simplified pricing structure needs to be put in place,” demands the IGGG.
"We're getting less this year than we were 40 years ago. It's not sustainable for farmers." says Bobby Miller, Chairman of the IGGG and he continues: “We’re very proud to be a part of the long tradition of Guinness, but farmers are going out of business. People are walking away from tillage. There’s a third of the land under tillage as there was 70 years ago. They have to realise that something has to change.”
Boortmalt argues they have invested millions of euros in upgrading the malting plant in Athy (inside.beer, 9.11.2017) and concluded a unique pricing model with the Irish Farmers' Association (IFA) that is open, transparent and market leading. Half of the growers - some 300 farmers - have chosen to participate in the pricing model, which is consistently outperforming growers who choose not to.
The protesting farmers have rejected the pricing model because they can allegedly not earn their living on the agreed prices. They call on Guinness, which is purchasing 130,000t of barley each year, by supporting farmers and other suppliers to build a sustainable value chain.
“Given its bargaining power, it clearly has a huge influence on the price received by growers. The forward selling pricing structure for malting barley was put in place at Diageo’s insistence,” says the IGGG.