First shipment of British malting barley to China hailed as a 'breakthrough'

by Emily Wilson
Share This:

The first direct shipment of British malting barley to China recently left the Port of Tilbury, London, for Dalian on the northeast coast of China. The sale of 16,000 tonnes of winter barley to China National Cereals, Oils and Foodstuffs Import and Export Corporation (COFCO), China's biggest cereal buyer, was made through Banks Agriculture in the U.K.

The shipment was a technical and logistical challenge, according to Michael Banks, chairman of the Banks Group. "The specification, which included a guaranteed maximum moisture content of 13.5%, was very exacting," he said. "Coordinating 640 lorry-loads of quality grain from farms and stores stretching from Hampshire to Lincolnshire put us on a steep learning curve. Every single load had to be sampled and checked to make sure it met the specification."

The barley was loaded onto the bulk carrier Jin Bi on May 31 and was to reach Dalian by mid-July.

HGCA British Cereal Exports identified China as a key export market for British malting barley nearly six years ago. In 1995, a Chinese delegation was invited to a British malting barley conference. Representatives from B.C.E., Banks Agriculture and the British government also visited China several times to establish trading relationships with the Chinese.

"This trade should be a major boost to confidence and optimism among British cereal growers," said Barclay Forrest, B.C.E. chairman.

Rachel Walker, B.C.E. manager, said the International Centre for Brewing and Distilling in Edinburgh helped secure the Chinese business. "Our real breakthrough came when the scholars put their views on British barley to a B.C.E. seminar in Dalian last November," she said.

By this fall, the Chinese brewing and malting industry will be able to sample beer produced from British barley, she added.