Scotch whisky may prove a little less Scottish thanks to poor
weather which has cut hopes for the domestic malting barley harvest, leaving
distillers to turn, unusually, to foreign supplies.
Prospects for the UK spring barley harvest look "anything
but promising" thanks to rains which in July came in at more than double typical
levels, following unusually wet weather in May and June too, RMI Analytics
"The conditions in the UK are really not good," the malting
barley consultancy said.
"The almost permanent rain showers of the previous weeks or
almost months put significant decease pressure on the plants.
"The problems are visible for everyone and we have to assume
that the kernels will be affected by various types of fungal infestations."
The setback has left the UK, which typically has an
exportable surplus of 150,000-200,000 tonnes, looking at excess supplies seen
at best at 80,000 tonnes, and potentially with insufficient domestic supplies to
cover the needs of distillers and brewers, RMI said.
More will be known after the start of harvesting, expected
begin in a week or so by consultancy Adas.
"Some companies are buying back export commitments because
they believe there will not be as much material for exports as they had
thought," RMI's Matthias Wree told Agrimoney.com.
Nonetheless, with exports from the south of England still expected
at 50,000 tonnes or more, "the north of England and Scotland will rely on
imports of Scandinavia of at least 30,000 tonnes".
Mr Wree said: "The UK usually finds a solution to its
malting barley supplies internally, even if it means pulling supplies to
Scotland from East Anglia.
"But this time is looks like there may not be enough,
meaning Scotland may have to turn to Danish origin.
"At least by the time it comes to drink the whisky in 12
years' time, people will have forgotten where the raw material came from."
A spokesperson for the Scottish Whisky Association said that
distillers "wherever possible" use Scottish malting barley, occasionally taking
supplies from northern England.
"I could not say we have never importers, but it would
certainly be very rare," the spokesperson said.