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"What if barley was more valuable than wheat? "

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Harvest of barley in Guignicourt (Aisne), in July 2018.
Harvest of barley in Guignicourt (Aisne), July 2018. FRANCOIS NASCIMBENI / AFP

Chronic. Sitting on a pile of gold. Or rather barley. The precious cereal deserves this semantic shift this year. It was better to harvest these grains last summer than to count his gains in napoleons.

Since August, in fact, barley is rengorge. His course ignited with the rise of summer mercury. The heat wave has grilled hopes of harvest in Australia but also in Europe and especially in Germany. While the Canadian harvest was thin. As a result, the world stock has been at its lowest in the last 30 years. Relief that has tilted up prices. The barley tonnage has exceeded the 200 euro mark and still works.

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French grain farmers have pulled their heads out of the game. Even though they have had cold sweats, most have gone through the heatwave. They harvested nearly 9.4 million tonnes of barley. So doing almost match with the Germans, and their 9.5 million tons.

Dromedaries of Saudi Arabia are fond of them

What to push to the wheel French exports. According to the public institute FranceAgriMer, France has already passed 1.3 million tonnes outside the European Union. First destination and by far with almost half of the volumes: Saudi Arabia.

"Saudi Arabia has decided for two years to stop the culture for lack of water and put on livestock, especially camels. It imports 7 to 8 million tons of barley a year, it is considerable ", explains Rémi Haquin, chairman of the cereals council of FranceAgriMer. Nothing is too good for the fine mouths that are the camelids very pampered in this land of black gold. Even if barley is worth gold …

China also imports barley dumpers. First to fill the troughs and feed the herds, the first use of this cereal by far. Even though higher grain prices tend to reduce rations in favor of maize. But not only. To water the thirsty Chinese throats, beer and malt are the pair. As long as you select the most popular varieties of grain.

The outlet of whiskey

The malting barley therefore holds the top of the basket. Especially as microbreweries have their requirements and boost the market. Not to mention that malt also comes into the composition of whiskey. Opportunities that have not escaped the French cereals cooperatives.

At the example of Axéréal. Its subsidiary Boortmalt processes 500,000 tonnes of barley harvested by its members in its French factory in Issoudun (Indre), but also in Antwerp, where it boasts the largest malting company in the world. Axéréal hopes to expand Boortmalt out of Europe by negotiating a recovery of the malt business of American Cargill, the world's third largest malt, behind the French Soufflet and Malteurop.

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