Diageo needs to stop hiding behind PR and spin and start treating its growers with respect, according to the Irish Grain Growers group.

The group was responding to a statement which Diageo issued on Monday where it said it does not buy grain from growers but purchases finished malt from malting companies and that it has “no role whatsoever” in malting barley price negotiations.

However, the Irish Grain Growers group told the Irish Farmers Journal on Wednesday that Diageo works hand in glove with Boortmalt and that it is an insult to their intelligence to suggest otherwise.

“The supposition from Diageo that it has no role whatsoever in negotiations regarding the price of malting barley is an extraordinary misrepresentation of the nature of its relationship with Boortmalt and in turn with growers.

“Diageo is the largest purchaser of malting barley in Ireland, purchasing 130,000t of barley each year. This is the majority of the malting barley grown in Ireland.

“Given its bargaining power, it clearly has a huge influence on the price received by growers. The forward-selling pricing structure for malting barley was put in place at Diageo’s insistence and only applies to grain destined for Diageo,” it said in a statement.

The group highlighted again that it believes the current selling mechanism for malting barley growers agreed between Boortmalt and the IFA must be abandoned.

“It has failed farmers and we stress no farmer agreed to it. Actions speak louder than words and we ask Diageo to demonstrate support for Irish farmers in a period where grain growers are going out of business while it makes billions of euro in profit.”


On Monday last, the Grain Growers held a second demonstration outside the Guinness Storehouse over what they say is a lack of progress on malting barley prices.

Bobby Miller, chair of the group, said there has been no response form Boortmalt and no progress has been made at all since the group were last outside the storehouse.

“The reality is, things haven’t changed. We’re still looking for a minimum of €200/t, a simplified sell-in scheme. We’re looking for the specifications to be loosened a little bit as well.”

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