Barley is one of the main ingredients of beer and therefore its availability and quality are crucial to our company’s future and success. However, with the rise of crop issues due to increasingly erratic climate patterns, farmers are moving away from malting barley in favour of crops with simpler management and more predictable revenues. In order to be able to keep brewing great beers in future, it is essential that malting barley remains a relevant and attractive crop to the best growers in the world. In this blog post, I will explain how we work toward a brighter future for both farmers and our company, while contributing to sustainability at the same time.
Pursuing an integrated and holistic approach
At AB InBev, we rely on independent farmers around the world to grow the five million metric tons of barley we use to brew our beers each year. We have a long-standing approach of partnering with our growers to improve crop management practices. We work directly with more than 25,000 barley growers worldwide (across Argentina, Brazil, Canada, China, Mexico, Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States and Uruguay) and invest in the development of improved varieties; providing access to high quality seeds and other quality inputs. We also deploy skilled agronomists and field specialists to work with growers to strengthen crop management practices.
“SmartBarley”: a robust benchmarking process
With an eye on reducing imports (increasing local production, especially in new and emerging markets), processing efficiencies, mitigation of supply disruptions and sustainability, we developed our “SmartBarley” programme in 2013.
SmartBarley is a win-win strategy to support our farmers, business and sustainability approach. It is a robust benchmarking process to share best practices and drive productivity gains within growers operations. The programme enables our growers to anonymously compare their barley production practices and outcomes across our global growers network. Growers can use data and share best practices to deliver value to their farms and communities. It helps them to identify opportunities to improve resource management, reduce risks, increase efficiency and productivity and measure success.
Zooming in on Europe, partnerships with several farms throughout the United Kingdom were recently celebrated with a “Day in the Field”, focusing on success and future potential. The day was joined by over 30 farm owners and agricultural leaders and included guest speakers, a showcase of Budweiser barley and a chance to see how it is grown.
More than 1,900 growers around the world are currently participating in SmartBarley, and we have plans to expand to new growers and new countries, while improving the programme at the same time. We will aim to deliver even greater value to our grower network, not only by benchmarking, but also by implementing new field innovations. What makes this a win-win situation? Apart from reducing costs and increasing quality, this programme results in a stronger supply chain and positively contributes to our sustainability goals!