In the last five to ten years the brewing industry has been undergoing consolidation, as players have sought to enter new markets by acquiring businesses that already have a presence there.
“Typically after an acquisition or consolidation there is a very quick focus on cash,” Patrick Patterson, general manager of Novozymes Switzerland told FoodNavigator.com. “Generating and saving cash can help pay for the acquisition.”
Measures may include sourcing the lowest cost raw material or squeezing out the highest yield – both areas that Novozymes tackles with its existing enzyme portfolio, and for which it is developing new solutions.
The company, which typically ploughs up to 14 per cent of revenues into R&D, will be unveiling a slate of new brewing enzymes at the forthcoming Drinktec trade show in Munich, Germany, next month. These will be added to the company’s www.brewinginnovation.com website, which presents enzymes that can meet specific needs or intentions of the industry.
Patterson said one way brewers can cut costs is by changing grains – using corn instead of rice or wheat, or increasing the portion of barley for example. But such a switch affects viscosity and filterability; using certain enzymes can address these problems and make for more consistent quality.
Moreover corn and rice needs to be liquefied, either with malt or by using a specialty enzyme. According to Patterson, one kg of a Novozyme’s enzyme developed for this purpose can have the same effect as 100 kg of malt because it is more heat stable.
In 2007 and 2008 there was a significant increase in malt and hops prices. Enzyme prices, on the other hand, are more stable and predictable.
Low cost beer
Another driver for cost reduction is the recession, which is prompting brewers to launch discount brands for consumption in the home instead of in bars and restaurants. Developing markets, too, require beer sold at different price points to developed markets.
“Lowest cost may mean sourcing local barley, and avoiding the malting process,” Patterson said.
Brewers tend to use a mix of barley and malt, with high a proportion of barley as possible for cost and emissions reasons (malting emits CO2). But the higher the barley content, the higher the viscosity and the lower the shelf life.
Novozyme currently has enzymes that can allow 50 per cent barley, and further developments are expected to be announced soon.
Patterson explained using enzymes can also extend the capacity of an existing brewery, so there is no need to invest in a whole new production site.
He explained that they help with high gravity brewing, where less water is used in proportion to the raw material. This results in a more concentrated, viscous liquid that can be broken down and diluted to make a higher volume of beer.
The process can be speeded up, too. At the end of the fermentation process the yeast tends to produce an off-flavour, and the beer needs to sit for 10 to 14 days for this to be broken down. But Patterson said that Novozyme’s Maturex enzyme can prevent the formation of the off-flavour, so the beer does not need to stand.
“Especially in summer, when demand can be higher, this can be a very good solution.”