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Investment boosts Buckie malt plant

Boortmalt's malting plant in Buckie.
Boortmalt's malting plant in Buckie.

International malting giant Boortmalt has announced a £12 million investment in its plant in Buckie in a move expected to create new jobs.

The Belgian company, which in the UK trades as Pauls Malt, aims to ramp up output from the site by 50% to support growing demand for malt in Scottish whisky distilling and brewing.

Boortmalt said production capacity would grow to about 90,000 tonnes per year. The expansion is already under way and scheduled for commissioning by the end of 2021.

Group chief executive Yvan Schaepman said: “This significant investment into our malting facilities in Buckie is a signal of our confidence in the future of the market and recent performance of our customer base.

“The new capacity will allow us to increase production and do so in a more sustainable manner.”

According to Boortmalt, the investment will positively impact its sustainability credentials by reducing the distance malt and barley will be transported – helping to reduce the company’s carbon footprint.

A modern new kiln is expected to brings its own benefits to energy efficiency, thanks to more economical burner technology.

Charles Tozer, general manager for the company in the UK and Ireland, said: “We pride ourselves on working alongside each distiller and brewer to offer them the malt they need for their style of beer or whisky.

“We are excited for what the future holds after significantly expanding our production capacity.”

Mr Tozer said it was an ambition of the group to increase the use of Scottish barley – rather than imported crop – in the malting process, allowing more whisky distillers to make Scotlands’ national drink from wholly domestic ingredients.

Imports of malting barley have for a long time been a source of angst for Scottish farmers, who have regularly sought assurances from the whisky industry about its commitment to home-grown crop.

Mr Tozer was dismayed to hear about Moray beer-maker WooHa Brewing Company going into administration –announced yesterday – but said the long-term prospects for malt customers in Scotland, particularly in the whisky industry, appeared good.

“This investment really is a signal of our confidence in distilling,” he said, adding: “It’s been a bit of a bumpy road for whisky-makers recently but coming out of Covid the prospects for the sector are strong”.

The expansion in production capacity will be achieved within the Buckie plant’s existing acreage and is expected to create up to four new jobs, Mr Tozer said.

Boortmalt’s Buckie malting plant, which currently employs 24 people, is one of 27 the group operates around the world.

There are four in the UK, where the Moray facility is joined by sister plants in Montrose, Knapton, in North Yorkshire, and Bury St Edmunds, in East Anglia.

Boortmalt recently announced a long-term supply agreement to buy malting barley direct from Banff & Moray Grain Group for its maltings in Buckie.

Ownership of Antwerp-headquartered Boortmalt is split between three French businesses – cereal co-operative Axereal, farmer-owned Tereos and agri-food investor Unigrains – and Singaporean sovereign wealth fund Temasek.

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