Improving the profitability & sustainability of Esperance port zone grain growers

Young Growers Tour Vietnam

Fourteen young farmers from the Esperance port zone went on a whirlwind tour of Vietnam in mid-2018. SEPWA organised the Young Growers Tour from July 30-August 4 for farmers aged 18 to 35 years, for those with a passion to learn more about the industry. The goal of the trip was to help firm relations with the buyers of Esperance crop, in particular malt barley, as the port zone is 100 per cent export. The other main reason was to show the growers what happens to their grain post-farm gate, and to offer the perspectives from the sides of the millers, maltsters and brewers.

The week began in Perth, where a visit to Edith Cowan University was complemented with a tour of their micro brewing facility, and the growers had a morning introduction to the basics of malting and brewing. The afternoon consisted of a visit to the Perth Cargill malting facility, escorted by the plant manager. There was plenty of discussion about the frustration at the number of barley varieties currently available on the market. The day concluded with a tour of the Gage Roads Brewery. 

After arriving in Ho Chi Minh (Saigon) in Vietnam, the group paid a visit to a key buyer of Esperance grain, Intermalt. The facility is surprisingly modern, and neighbours Interflour, which has a deep port.

The growers on the tour got a genuine feel for the quantity of grain which passes through the facilities. The Interflour senior manager and general manager gave the SEPWA group a personal tour and supplied a local lunch. Next door at the Intermalt facility, we had a tour with the GM and the head maltster, who were extremely forthcoming with information about barley varieties.

The following day, the group had a tour of the Heineken Vietnam Brewery in Ho Chi Minh city, which produces about 680 million litres of beer a year. The packaging plant was possibly the most impressive spot on the tour, with approximately 90,000 cans of beer coming off the line each day. At the end of the tour, the company’s technological controller answered our questions, and it was interesting to note how the brewery puts emphasis on grain colour.

The group then visited the ABC bakery, which makes their goods from Interflour flour, and then it was off to do a tour of the World of Heineken.  A lay day at the end was welcomed after a full week of information, and it was exciting to see the enthusiasm from the younger growers on the tour.

Overall SEPWA was well represented, and it looks like Esperance grain will be in demand well into the future.
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