Final 2022 German Brewing Barley Harvest Report
Considering the extreme weather conditions in the spring and summer of the German 2022 crop year, the most recent malting-quality barley harvest turned out relatively well. Surveys and evaluations by various agricultural bodies in the German states show a total cultivation area of 367,000 ha (303,000 ha in 2021), as well as a volume of 1.94 million metric tons (MT) of spring barley with an average yield of 5.29 MT/ha. Purely mathematically, this volume should translate into about 1.27 million MT of brewing-quality barley with an average protein content of 10.4%, and with 89.4% of kernels having a plumpness rating of ≥ 2.5 mm. These averages, however, are slightly misleading because they fail to reflect the heterogeneous and widely fluctuating nature of the harvest in the different key German growing regions (see attached table).
One bright spot in the current, very tense German malting barley market is the excellent quality and quantity of the winter malting barley harvest, as well as the roughly 25,000 to 30,000 ha of spring barley that were planted in the fall of 2021. Statistically, the latter volumes are counted as winter barley, but functionally they raise the amount of quality spring barley in the market to about 130,000 MT. This means that the German malting and brewing industries have almost 1.4 million MT of domestically grown quality barley available.
In addition, unlike in previous years, the current harvest exhibited a much shorter dormancy period. It could thus be processed much sooner than usual; and this means that it has to last over a longer time span as we get close to the 2023 harvest.
Initial seed sales, projections, and industry-internal analyses suggest that, during the upcoming campaign, the acreage for spring barley will increase by about 40,000 ha. In addition, a strong demand for malting-quality winter barley seeds has led to speculations that the winter malting barley acreage is also likely to expand.
German beer sales have largely recovered from the pandemic lows but are still below the 2019 level. The availability of malting-quality barley at the farm level seems now secure and is expected to remain so because of the continued high premium on malting barley and the agricultural advantages of spring malting barley cultivation, both of which are projected to drive further acreage expansions. Long term, the German malting and brewing industries are cooperating to further increase the supply of domestically grown malting-quality barley and to gradually reduce their dependence on imports. Overall, however, the demand for winter, facultative, and spring barley of malting-quality is likely to remain high in 2023.