The magnificence that is malt

With the value of the global malt ingredients market pushing through the $20 billion barrier, Will Daynes gains some valuable insight into what the future holds for this staple of people’s diets across the globe

Ever since ancient times, malt ingredients have been used in the production of food and beverages, the most famous example perhaps being the use of malted grains in the creation of beer and other alcoholic drinks. Malt ingredients have become a proven means of enhancing flavour and colour, along with stabilising the texture of various products, and are typically rich in essential macro and micronutrients such as proteins, vitamins B complex, zinc, iron, calcium, and have low-fat content. As a result, these ingredients remain in extremely high demand within the food and beverage industry, whether they be found in flavoured drinks, bakery goods, cereals, biscuits or cakes.

In 2018, the global malt ingredients market was valued at approximately $19.79 billion, and it is projected to expand at a Compound Annual Growth Rate of 5.3 per cent from 2019 until 2025. So, what is it about malt ingredients that has given them such longevity and ongoing importance?

“Malting is one of the oldest agricultural processes in human history, and whilst the process has advanced and developed over time, the fundamentals remain essentially the same,” states Alison Milne, co-Director of Fife-based craft malting business, Crafty Maltsters. “The production of cereals across the world, not only sustains communities, but provides a multifunctional ingredient that, through the process of malting, takes grains in their raw form and transforms them into an ingredient that lies at the core of many food and beverage products.”

Alison and the rest of the Crafty Maltsters team come from a long line of passionate farmers, and have a true passion and hunger to explore the potential of malt. As such, there are few people better placed to explain some of the reasons why the malt ingredients market is expected to go from strength-to-strength in the coming years. “The changing dynamics of the brewing and distilling sector have brought with them a renewed focus on both provenance and flavour differentiation. The consumer is increasingly aware and interested in the authenticity of a product, and therefore provenance has become a key driver,” she continues. “The consumer is also more discerning and concerned about the health benefits and nutritional value of the food and drink that they consume, and malt will continue to have a key role to play, because of its unique characteristics.”

Exploring opportunities
Crafty Maltsters is one of a number of companies throughout the world looking to ride the growth in demand for malt ingredients by using them to create innovative new products that their customers can enjoy. Its team believes that the key to innovation lies in exploring opportunities across the supply chain. “As farmers, we understand that our varietal choices, growing conditions and crop management will all affect the final quality of a malted grain,” Alison adds. “At the heart of our business model is a collaborative approach, where we will work with brewers and distillers to identify their needs, and match our product development to suit them. In working closely with research and development institutions, we can also explore the flavour traits of barley varieties and explore new opportunities to differentiate, both in the field and in the Malthouse.”

While research figures help to paint a picture of the estimated future value of the malt ingredients market, what do companies like Crafty Maltsters envision as being some of the potential future uses of these vitally important food components? “Our focus is on maximising the current use of malt ingredients within the food and beverage world,” Alison muses. “It has long been the case that malt is regarded as a commodity product, but we believe this ignores crucial opportunities to explore flavour characteristics and the environmental factors that contribute to them.

“The world of malt is exciting and diverse. From the field to the malting drum, we know there are innovative ways of thinking and working that can deliver new flavour experiences. On that journey, we will undoubtedly unlock new opportunities for ingredient use, which for us and the rest of the food and beverage industry is hugely exciting!”