Asahi Beverages has overhauled its supply chain and will now brew many of its iconic beers, such as Victoria Bitter, Carlton Draught, Great Northern and Pure Blonde, using barley purchased directly from Aussie farmers.
The first batch of the new beers will roll off the lines at Asahi’s breweries in Yatala, Queensland, and Abbotsford, Victoria, next month.
More than 30 Victorian farmers in the barley-growing hubs of the Wimmera and the Mallee have been engaged for the project, with their 30,000 tonnes of barley sent to the Abbotsford Brewery once it has been malted.
And seven farmers from southern NSW will supply 40,000 tonnes of barley to Asahi’s Yatala Brewery in Queensland once it has been malted. Northern NSW growers are expected to join the scheme before this year’s harvest.
The new supply chain means more than 90% of Asahi Beverages’ barley is purchased direct from farmers in line with the company’s quality and sustainability requirements, with the program set to then expand to Asahi Beverages’ smaller breweries including Cascade in Hobart.
Asahi Beverages’ Group Chief Brewer Jaideep Chandrasekharan (pictured main, left) said: “Barley malt is the heart and soul of beer and has a defining influence on the taste, colour, aroma and foam. Australian malting barley is of the highest quality and sourcing it direct from farmers is an important change for our national operations and also the dozens of farmers we’ll purchase from.
“Under the old model the grains we purchased generally weren’t segregated but this program allows us to track the provenance of barley used to brew our major beers and gives us direct relationships with more farmers.
“Farmers will grow barley in accordance with our strict quality program, we’ll monitor quality parameters such as protein levels and grain size, and we’ll link on-farm practices to beer quality. We will also track water use and other agricultural inputs to ensure our barley helps us achieve our sustainability targets.
“Until recently, the expertise to develop and maintain an intricate program like this at scale didn’t exist in Australia but we’re now working with supply chain managers Origin Trail and Pure Grain to bring it to life.”
Farmer John Bennett (pictured main, right), whose barley farm in Victoria’s West Wimmera is now supplying Asahi Beverages direct, said: “The new program connects our farm directly with Asahi Beverages. This relationship gives us a better understanding of their stringent quality parameters and ensures we provide the highest-quality barley for their brewing process. Buying barley direct not only benefits farmers, but the communities we live in too.”
Grain Producers Australia Chairman Andrew Weidemann AM said: “Barley farmers have faced many challenges in recent years so it’s fantastic to see a program like this launch. With Asahi Beverages’ knowledge and experience, the program will help ensure crops are grown sustainability and that farmers can grow new varieties that can open up more international markets for them, which is particularly timely.
“Aussie farmers have always been proud to grow the produce that goes into Australia’s iconic beers but this direct connection makes this even better. Cheers to Asahi Beverages for launching it.”
Asahi begins on Australia’s largest PET recycling plant
Asahi Beverages also commenced construction on a world-class recycling facility in Albury-Wodonga last month – together with Pact Group Holdings and Cleanaway Waste Management – which will see the equivalent of around 1 billion PET plastic bottles recycled each year.
Asahi Beverage’s Group CEO, Robert Iervasi, said: “Asahi Beverages is excited to be partnering with Pact and Cleanaway to make this investment and create more jobs for the Albury-Wodonga region.
“This will be a world-class facility that helps transform Australia’s recycling capacity and the Albury-Wodonga region should be proud of its contribution to manufacturing and recycling in Australia.
“Along with our beverage manufacturing plant in Albury, the new plant is part of our long-term commitment to the region.”