Although spring has just begun and the fall harvest is far from now, for Canada Malting it is never too early to start planning for the new barley crop. Canada Malting is constantly focused on the crop to assure the availability and quality of malting barley for its customers. Years ago, this focus on quality generated the idea of assembling a system of Countryside Grain Elevators across the Canadian Prairie. This system of Country Elevators would play an integral role in the company’s strategy to handle and manage the barley crop during good years and especially during challenging years.
Canada Malting has 9 country elevators across 4 provinces (5 in Alberta, 2 in Saskatchewan, 2 in Manitoba), in prime barley growing regions, employing more than 35 people in local communities. These locations purchase from over 2,000 farmers and procure more than 500,000MT of grain (barley, wheat, rye, oats) per year. These Elevators are meant to handle only grain destined for Canada Malting’s 3 Malthouses in Calgary, Thunder Bay, and Montreal.
Canada Malting felt that it was important to have Country Elevators, not only for its supply risk but also to manage the quality risk. Having Country Elevators would also allow Canada Malting to interact closely and build strong relationships with the growers. Good communication with the growers would provide the opportunity for Canada Malting to share their malting knowledge and explain the significance of each element of barley specifications, which have an effect on malting and brewing performance. Therefore, the growers would understand and make necessary adjustments so their barley would be selected for malting more frequently. This has resulted in an increase in healthy and more productive barley acreage, as well as strong long term relationships with Canadian barley farmers.
- Five grain elevators in Alberta (largest barley growing region in Canada)
- Niobe North
- Niobe South
- Two grain elevators in Saskatchewan
- Two grain elevators in Manitoba
The size of each Elevator may appear to be smaller and less efficient when you compare them to newly built, high throughput Elevators, however, these earlier designed elevators have many benefits for malting barley today:
- More small bins, which allow more segregation to manage quality accordingly.
- It handles the barley gently so there is less damage with respect to peeled/skinned and broken barley.
- Local knowledge of weather, and farming practices needed to produce the best barley.
- While many small-town elevators have been closed down in recent decades, Canada Malting is proud to partner with local communities by providing employment and local relationships across the Prairie.
The integration of the Country Elevator system has given Canada Malting even more control on managing quality, logistics, and traceability. All of the Elevators are capable of loading railcars in addition to loading trucks. Under ideal harvest conditions, the Alberta elevators are mainly assigned to supply the Calgary malting facility; with the Saskatchewan and Manitoba Elevators service Thunder Bay and Montreal Malthouses, however, the flexibility of the Elevator system allows Canada Malting to provide top quality barley, even if there is a harvest issue in one particular area.
The Country Elevators each have a full barley laboratory on-site and this allows for another layer of quality assurance and quality control by:
- Analyzing each incoming barley load for essential barley specifications.
- Germination Potential
- Grain Size
- Insects/Foreign Material
- Heat Stress
- Food Safety requirements
- Separating and storing the barley accordingly to variety, protein level, and quality risk factors.
- Allowing for multiple testing points of the barley before it enters the malt house
As a result, the elevators are now able to control and deliver exactly the desirable qualities which the malt plants require. This is a Maltsters Dream – They can order exactly the type of barley they require, to suit the customer they are Malting for. There is a “Rainbow” of different types of barley available from the Prairie, and one of the keys to Malt quality is making sure that the right barley is provided to the right customer – this is exactly what the Elevators allow Canada Malting to do.
Furthermore, the existence of the Country Elevators has improved Canada Malting’s exposure in the field. There are more representatives to provide better service, which has resulted in more growers signing production contacts. These production contracts enable Canada Malting to conduct traceability on those grains and can obtain the location of that crop and what chemical applications were used. They also know in which bins the barley is stored since samples are labeled when the harvest and re-check samples are sent prior to delivering the barley to the malt plants. All these steps are recorded for traceability purposes.
What does this mean for the customer?
With the implementation of the Country Elevators, Canada Malting Company allows for a much tighter selection control over the barley coming into the Malthouses, which results in a more consistent and higher quality finished malt. The system also can offer customized blends for customers that require unique and specific parameters for their malt. Canada Malting’s premier Craft product, Superior Pilsen malt is a perfect example of these elevators at work, using only a single variety to produce a very special malt.
I am proud to be associated with an organization that puts quality first and works with such integrity with the growers that continue to stake their livelihoods on producing malting barley for the brewing community. Remember – No Barley, No Malt…..No Beer!
If you would like to learn more about the Country Elevator system and their operations, Canada Malting offers a Malting Course in Calgary, Alberta (August 20th-24th, 2018). For more information about the Malting Course and the Canada Malting products we offer, please contact your Territory Sales Manager.