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Brief: Heineken explores sustainable barley cultivation in new trial

September 17, 2021

  • Heineken UK, Muntons Malt, and Future Food Solutions are launching a new trial with barley farmers to explore how beer’s primary ingredient can be grown in a more sustainable way with an eye towards reducing associated greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Starting in late 2021, 10 farmers will cultivate roughly 7,000 acres of winter and spring barley varieties, yielding up to 25,000 tonnes of grain – enough to brew almost 300 million pints of beer.
  • The effort is part of Heineken’s goal to reduce its ag-related emissions by 33% by 2030 and achieve a carbon-neutral value chain by 2040. 

Why it matters:

Heineken will examine a variety of farming practices during the trial including inter-row cropping, growing cover crop mixes using phacelia, oil radish, and clover using less invasive measures to prepare the land, and optimizing crop nitrogen use.

The brewing giant has already worked closely with Future Food Solutions to help farmers cut their carbon emissions. The company claims that past efforts have helped it to reduce the carbon footprint of its barley supply chain by 32% in the past 12 years.

Other ESG efforts in the alcohol industry include Bacardi’s biodegradable bottles and Diageo’s plan to boost sustainability, diversity, and positive drinking. Other distillers are focusing on using upcycled ingredients or tamping down waste in their production processes. Startup Zymoscope is applying innovative technology to the brewing process.

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