Representatives of the National Farmers' Union (NFU) Scotland, England and Wales branches met with representatives of the Maltsters’ Association of Great Britain virtually for the first time.

Willie Thomson, chair of NFU Scotland Combinable Crops Committee said:

"Last harvest there were real fears that grain stores would run out of space to accept new malting barley because distillers had not been able to fully operate during the first Covid-19 lockdown to use up the 2019 crop.

As always there was much to discuss but the overall picture is positive for malt and malting barley.

“It now appears that a combination of factors, including short supplies of feed wheat, poor malting barley yields in England and a rush to export to Europe by the end of the year has taken a sizeable bite out of the overhang.

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"Maltsters bought around what had been forecast and hope to buy a similar amount in 2021."

Steady growth

Thomson continued:

"Although there remains some overhang there are other signs pointing towards steady growth.

The US tariff on malt whisky has been suspended and new Scottish malting capacity is coming online this year and in 2022.

"It has been a long-standing NFU Scotland view that more capacity is needed to cope with expected growth in the market for Scotch Whisky.

"Hopefully by 2022 a return of international travel will help with that and bring the supply and demand for malting barley back into balance," he concluded.