Craft brewing and distilling is growing so fast in the Canadian province of Ontario that it has provided a thriving market for cereal growers and grain elevators to tap in to.
Showcased as part of a Grain Farmers of Ontario tour of the region, the country is seeing a similar explosion in the number of craft breweries and distilleries that the UK is also experiencing.
This meant some grain elevators were shifting their resources to keep up with demand.
Cribit Seeds, West Montrose, Ontario, had invested heavily in new equipment to partly meet demand from the Brewers Supply Group.
Large commercial opportunity
Julia Thompson from the company said: “We are niche because of our focus on oats and barley.”
The region predominates in corn and soybeans.
Demand for whisky, gin and vodka was also rising, with Spring Mill Distillery, Guelph, starting production this year.
Using rye, malting barley, corn and wheat, it was symptomatic of the sort of venture booming in the province.
With more than a third of Canada’s 36m population within Ontario, many of these new businesses were convinced the large population on their doorstep gave them a huge commercial opportunity.
Demand for wine was also growing and given that some believe pockets of the UK could extend their acreage of vineyards due to a warming climate, many had impressive retail and tasting set-ups to showcase their products.
Matthew Speck, who runs the 120-hectare (300-acre) Henry of Pelham vineyard in Niagara with his two brothers, is selling 4m bottles every year as part of Canada’s wine sector, worth up to Can$1bn (£620m).
He said: “There are 7m-8m people within one hour of here and that is a massive market for us. Toronto is also growing all the time.”