Tuesday, 23 February 2016

The 1952 barley crop (part four)

Guinness had a particularly complicated relationship with barley growers. Sufficient to warrant several paragraphs in the article.

New Guinness Barley Prices for Irish Growers
A minimum price of 66s. 9d. per barrel of 224 lbs. and a maximum price of 84s. 3d. per barrel of 224 lbs. delivered to buyers' premises, will be paid by Messrs. Guinness for their contracted quantities of malting barley of the 1953 crop.

This was agreed at a meeting recently of representatives of the Grain Growers' Association, Ltd., and the directors of Messrs. Guinness. Within these limits Messrs. Guinness undertook that their price on a delivered basis would be 3s. 9d. per barrel more than the average price of their purchases of malting barley ex farm in England.”
"Brewer's Guardian 1953", 1953, February page 14.

I can see why Guinness and Irish barley growers would want to cooperate. Guinness had an interest in sufficient supplies of good malting barley being available locally. And Guinness was by far the biggest purchaser of malting barley in Ireland. Farmers couldn’t avoid them, if they wanted to grow barley. So contracting growers and guaranteeing a price made sense for both sides.

But why did they guarantee to pay Irish farmers more than their English counterparts? I’m really intrigued by this. It looks like an attempt to bolster Irish agriculture.

Hang on a minute, it’s explained in the next bit of the text.

“Messrs. Guinness are prepared to make contracts for about 510,000 barrels.

Farmers who offer malting barley under contract and whose deliveries are rejected as being below malting quality will be offered a firm price of 55s. per barrel, delivered, provided the barley is fit for roasting purposes.

Messrs. Guinness reserve the right to make deductions on account of moisture above 19 per cent as determined by the buyers.

Aim of Agreement
The price for the last season's crop was 75s. for malting barley.

The basis of the new agreement is taken as representing an effort to induce farmers to market high quality barley. The farmer who does this could get up to 84s. 3d. per barrel, and if the British price should reach that level he would get 3s. 9d. more, or 88s. per barrel, which is regarded as a tempting price.”
"Brewer's Guardian 1953", 1953, February page 14.

There you have it: Guinness wanted to encourage Irish farmers to grow decent barley.

I love the chance to perform some mathematics. 510,000 barrels is 280,600 quarters of 400 lbs. Assuming 90 lbs of extract per quarter and based on the average OG in the Republic of Ireland in 1953 (1045.21*) I make that enough barley to brew a little over 1.5 million barrels. Which is a huge percentage of the 2,145,110** barrels brewed in the Republic of Ireland in 1953. Not really surprising, as the vast majority of beer came from Guinness-owned breweries. It looks like Guinness were contracting around enough Irish barley to meet all their malting needs for the year.

barrels barley quarters barley total lbs extract barrels @ 1045º
510,000 285,600 25,704,000 1,579,861

Interested in what happened to UK barley prices in 1953? That will tell us how good a deal Guinness gave Irish farmers.

The 66s. 9d. minimum per 224 lbs. is 119s 2d per 400 lb quarter. The maximum price of 84s. 3d. per 224 lbs is 150s 5d per quarter. While the average UK price per quarter in 1953 was 107s 5d. Looks to me like Irish farmers were getting a pretty good deal from Guinness. At least in 1953. It would be interesting to see what they did in later years as the barley price continued to fall.

* 1955 Brewers’ Almanack, page 110.
** 1955 Brewers’ Almanack, page 110.
*** 1971 Brewers' Almanack, page 61.

1 comment:

Ed said...

Crisp Maltings charge farmers if barley comes to them with greater than 15 percent moisture.