Drought threatens British beer supply


THE price of a pint could soar as the drought in the south of England threatens supplies of wheat and barley.

Brewers Molson Coors, which makes Carling and Grolsch lagers and Worthingtons bitter has warned that an unusually dry winter and spring is causing problems with the supply of high-quality malted barley.

Jerry Dyson, the raw materials manager at the company, said: “Weather conditions always play a major role in both the availability and quality of malting barley and this was brought into sharp focus most recently with the winter malting barley crop of 2011. The very dry spring meant that the winter barley crop had a high nitrogen level, which significantly reduced its value for brewing.”

Poor yields of malted barley have proved a problem for the beer industry  Photo:SJB

Last year one in tree barley farmers saw a fall in their yields, according to an industry survey, and it is expected that the situation could be even worse this year.

The British Beer and Pub Association has warned drinkers to expect a rise in beer prices.

A spokesman for the Association said: “There’s no doubt that a poor barley harvest will certainly put pressure on beer prices.

“Raw materials are between 3 and 10p of the price of a pint and most of the barley to make beer here in Britain is grown in Britain, so it is an issue.

“But its nothing compared to the tax bill which is 40% of the price of your pub pint.”

The recent dry winter and spring have resulted in the UK’s worst drought since 1976.

As well as cereal crops, supplies of potatoes and carrots are also under threat if the country does not experience more rain over the next few months.

A hosepipe ban is already being introduced across the south and east of England tomorrow (tues), which will effect 20 million homes.

The Environment Agency has said that river levels across the country were falling despite rain last week, and that two thirds were “exceptionally low”.

The unusual dry spell has prompted the Royal Horticultural Society is to open its advisory service for the public for the first time. The service is normally reserved for members only.

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