Malting barley prices were expected to remain under pressure this season, with AHDB figures revealing a 29 per cent drop in demand during June.
The UK lockdown hit demand from the restaurant and pub trade, with UK brewers, maltsters and distillers using 116,900 tonnes in June.
Before the full extent of the pandemic was known, AHDB senior analyst Helen Plant said expectations were ‘very different’.
In February, human and industrial usage of barley in 2019/20, which includes food usage and usage by brewers, maltsters and distillers was forecast to rise by 2 per cent.
By May a 5 per cent fall was expected.
While restaurants and pubs have now reopened it was still not ‘business as usual’ due to social distancing restrictions on capacity and low consumer confidence.
Ms Plant added it seemed ’business as usual’ would not return quickly with local lockdowns also having a possible impact.
“As such, it is reasonable to assume malting demand for barley will remain under pressure compared to pre-coronavirus levels in 2020/21.”
Away from Covid-19, there were challenges from a large planted area for 2020 and a reported large carry out meaning supplies would remain high. There were also reports maltsters did not have sufficient storage capacity.
Export patterns could also shift due to the possible tariffs UK barley exports face into the EU after January 1 if a trade deal was not agreed.