Carlsberg announced "we will be impacted by rising input costs and will therefore have to increase sales prices" today. There, that ought to cheer you up. Mr. B. noted - with a rather ominous tone - a tale of horseplay and even collusion about this sort of thing just the other day but in this particular case, could there be something else going on? This October 28 news release from the Canadian Wheat Board has some commentary:
Malting barley supplies are tight this year. With the late harvest, the quality and selectability of western Canadian malting barley is still being evaluated. However, it is clear that Canadian supplies are going to be much tighter than we have seen in recent years. Until the quality of the crop is determined by the selection companies, it will be difficult to estimate the potential impact on sales and pool returns. Europe also experienced a disappointing harvest and the total amount of available malting-quality barley is significantly lower than in the past two years. The Australian barley crop is on track to be their largest in several years. If weather cooperates and the quality is good, it has the potential to put significant pressure on world malting barley prices. However, recent rains in eastern Australia are causing concern about the eventual amounts of malting barley available.
Funny - as the same report states "malting barley remains unchanged" and, indeed, the price for two row barley this fall is $260 a tonne. If we revisit this chart that we last looked at in August we see that while $260 is a bit above the projections for this year of around $210 it is well below the 2008/09 figures which came in around $320.
So, what does it mean? Well, the Carlsberg story seems to relate to the Russian market. And we have to understand the last October rains in Australia. What it does all mean, however, that if there was no collapse of beer prices from 2009 to now... why are price pressures coming into the discussion now? Could Mr. B. be spot on?