Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his plans to assist barley growers to develop their production, as a local raw material source for existing and future micro-breweries and distilleries within Ireland; and if he will provide an overview of the current size and potential of this segment.
REPLY (Minister Simon Coveney)
Malting barley production is a valuable and important sector within the agri-food industry. Current production of malt in Ireland is in the region of 120,000 tonnes from 160,000 tonnes plus of contracted malting barley.
Future prospects are very positive, primarily due to the growth of Irish Whiskey exports and interest in craft beers which is driving growth in micro-breweries.
The Tillage Sector Development Plan published in 2012 identified the potential for growth of the malting sector and an opportunity to expand production of native malting barley by upwards of 100,000 tonnes over time.
The extent of any increase will depend on the sustainability of the supply chain and on building strong relationships with customers and markets.
Work is underway on developing an industry-led agri-food development strategy to succeed Food Harvest 2020 and this includes assessing the prospects for individual sectors and which measures would best promote sustained growth and a strong supply chain.