NEWS
28/03/2017

WBMBC17: World beer industry gathers at RMI Analytics event

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The leading lights of the world brewing raw materials business gathered in Vienna last week for the 9th RMI Analytics World Barley Malt and Beer Conference (WBMBC).

The three-day conference saw presentations on malting barley and grain S&D´s, responsible sourcing, malting barley varieties, opportunities in malt production and developments on the global beer market through to market developments in Asia and Africa from the perspective of local players to the view of the craft beer sector in the USA on craft malt developments.

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For a complete look at the pictures from the Conference visit our photographer.

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RMI LEARNING opened its doors for the first time with a workshop series on the arrival day. In the strategy workshop “Global Beer Industry Outlook 2025” the participants advised the imaginary billionaire and workshop leader Meik Forrel where to invest in the beer industry.

Vienna_Horiz_LogoLearning, a fun team event or just having a beer, there have been many reasons to participate in the beer tasting with beer sommelier and Ambassador of American craft beer for the Brewers Association Sylvia Koop. All these hopes have come true in the sensory deconstruction of 7 flavor-forward beers.

But it wasn’t just about the presentations and workshops with plenty of social events allow the more than 330 participants to network, building lasting relationships across the international brewing raw materials sector.

Chances to network came at the Gala Dinner in the Palais Ferstel where the Brewing Supply Awards Maltster of the Year was presented, with GrainCorp Malt taking out the golden first place award. Runners up for Maltster of the Year were PMV Maltings based in India and The Swaen malthouse based in the Netherlands.

The famous GlobalMalt Pub Tour on the last night of the Conference saw the pubs of Vienna filled with WBMBC participants from around the world, eager to taste the excellent lager beers for which the city is famous.

On a more serious note, the presentations let participants catch-up on developments in international markets, supply and technology.

From China the CEO of the Tsingtao Brewery, Fan Wei spoke on the evolving beer market in China, issues in falling consumption and how demand is increasingly coming from a highly technologically savvy and wealthier middle-class.

“Over the last ten years the economic growth (of China) was more than 10% but now we see economic growth is slowing down…so last year Chinese economic growth was 6.5% so this might be a reason our sales growth has gone down,” Mr Fan Wei said.

“In the past business consumption was more important, in catering, but now it goes back to the family with online shopping being more important.”

Other landmark presentations were from agricultural analyst Dr Klaus-Dieter Schumacher, who spoke on developments in the international grains market. Dr Schumacher had some interesting remarks on the global S&D and crop success, stating that market participants should be wary as the world had now gone four years without a crop failure anywhere in the world.

“Even if we have surpluses today we still need to remember that we will need to feed many more people in the future,” Dr Schumacher said.

“I started off saying we’ve had four years in a row with growing conditions I’ve never experienced before. And really I would start doubting myself being an analyst if we have another year without an adverse crop event somewhere in the world.”

From ADM Germany Mareike Eckmann spoke to the malting barley supply and demand globally, expressing the view that a continued decline in acreages across the world could lead to supply problems in coming years.

“The global malting barley market is fragmented, malting barley supply and demand is the tightest amongst major grains and we see a high risk there will be a reduction in acreage in major growing areas,” Ms Eckmann said.

“The control of logistical bottlenecks is very important and market liquidity will continue to be a serious challenge.”

Speaking for the craft brewing sector Chris Swersey of the US Brewers Association told participants about how his members were altering the face of craft malting in the USA, quickly building an industry which only a few years ago barely existed.

“Craft is now, when you consider all-malt beers too, around 14% of total USA beer consumption and consumes roughly 40% of the total malt that’s used by USA brewers,” Mr Swersey said.

“There are now at least 61 operational craft maltsters, members of the Craft Maltsters Guild…there are craft maltsters in 23 US States and in four Canadian provinces. So this is a rapidly growing group, we were at only 18 a few years ago.”

Hops were too in the spotlight at the WBMBC2017 with CEO of Hopsteiner Joachim Gehde talking about the supply of bittering hops and his expectation 2017 could see a dramatic rise in their price following some tight production years and considerable contracting at the end of 2016.

“It’s totally unclear what will be the price situation for bitter varieties at this moment really is, I don’t think it’s comfortable…but what we saw recently in the market is an increase in inquiries for crop 2016,” Mr Gehde said.

“These were guys who weren’t covered and wanted to buy relatively large volumes and we aren’t sure if these needs have been covered in the meantime and I personally don’t think there is much available spot volume for bitter varieties. I think any inquiry exceeding 40MT or 50MT we couldn’t do it and the whole industry is close to not being able to do it.

“So the crop 2017 will be a very important crop for the hop industry. I think if the crop 2017 comes in average or below average then we are in a crisis.”

Regarding Africa, Global Procurement Manager for Barley, Malt, Hops and Adjuncts for AB InBev, Brent Atthill spoke to the opportunities and the challenges coming out the continent in coming years.

Mr Atthill discussed the dominant local traditional beverages consumed in Africa and the areas where beer consumption is growing rapidly, such as Kenya.

During his presentation he recounted an anecdote about the construction of a malthouse in Africa and the realization they needed to urgently improve roads and transport links or end up with a ‘a queue of 2000 donkeys’ carrying malting barley to the plant.

Visit www.wbmbc2017.com for the full program of the Conference and visit our YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCZUUfhSVQf3h7mDcwPeZpkg

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The World Barley Malt and Beer Conference (WBMBC) was organized by brewing raw materials analysts RMI Analytics, which publishes the Brewing Raw Material Journal and organizes global crop tours of malting barley and hop production regions.

For further information on the WBMBC or RMI Analytics activities please contact Scott Casey +491734132412 scott.casey@rmi-analytics.com

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