Beer drinkers beware. Poor weather and a bad barley crop could mean a spike in beer prices in 2012.
Canada and Australia are the main exporters of barley, and flooding rains in 2010 put a significant damper on the crop.
The Prairie provinces faced a wet and soggy spring followed by an early, frosty fall. Several farmers were left weeks behind schedule as persistent rain left fields completely swamped and saturated with water.
“I was hoping to grow malt quality barley and because of the rain it was stained,” said Saskatchewan farmer Doug Faller. Still, Faller managed to have better luck than other farmers who left millions of acres completely unseeded. The lack of quality crop caused concern within the agricultural community and the provincial economy.
The Brewers Association of Canada says the damaging weather that farmers experienced last year will likely have a ripple effect. If the price for barley, one of the main ingredients in beer rises, the price for ale will do the same.
While most breweries have stocked up on barley, the demand and increase in cost for the crop is still concerning. The Canadian Wheat board says the price of malting barely is expected to jump by one-third this summer.
Breweries are hoping for a strong barley harvest this year, which would help to keep the prices down for both the producer and the beer drinker.