Cereal chain

India : building a supply chain

01 June 2013

India is one of the Soufflet Group’s new growth territories. A sub-continent where the entire barley supply chain is yet to be built. For the last two years, we have been conducting field trials. Last April saw the first harvest in our Indian story. 

Since 2010, Malteries Soufflet has had its eyes on India, a fast developing country where beer consumption is not matched by the malting quality of the barley produced, which is especially poor. Although more than 90 million tonnes of wheat and over 100 million tonnes of rice is produced annually in India, only 1.6 million tonnes of barley is grown. As in all emerging economies, it is seen as a cereal for poor or arid land, of no interest other than for feeding livestock.

As the next logical step in the Soufflet Group’s strategy of bringing producers and users together, the challenge is to better meet the needs of India’s brewers.

Two years of experimenting

So we set up in India in summer 2011, for a lengthy phase of getting our bearings, learning about the country and experimenting with varieties. The aim being to test varieties of barley from countries with a less temperate climate than Europe, alongside Indian barley varieties used as controls. Would they be able to adapt? The answer is yes. They turn out to be even more productive than local varieties of barley, while needing less water than wheat. They lead us to hope for a twofold gain: better net annual income for farmers and greatly improved quality for brewers.

Building a supply chain

In addition to our trial plots, we are supporting a local maltster as part of a proposed joint venture. At our initiative, at the end of 2012 we began making production contracts with 350 farmers, who we supply with quality seed and support with advice on growing their crops. A contract to buy their harvest at a guaranteed price has also been offered. Sown in October and November 2012, the barley

was harvested from April 2013, and quality and quantity are already both better than the standards achieved in past years.

For brewers, the advantage of crops grown using our expertise is clear: with quality malting barley available in increasing quantity at a competitive price, they are going to be able to roll out their portfolio of brands, with their premium products in particular.

Our approach

Right from the outset, the Soufflet Group developed itself in the wheat and barley industries by broadening the scope of its activities and acquiring more in-depth expertise from collection to transformation. Controlling all aspects of the production chain, in order to serve all its stakeholders, has always been our culture.