Cargill’s malt business is the world’s third largest commercial malt manufacturer, with a capacity of 1.5 million MT per year. We have 11 facilities in 9 countries in Europe, North America and Latin America and is headquartered in Minneapolis, USA.
Malt’s history and operations in Belgium
Since the late 19th century, malt production was started by “Les Malteries Leon Dreyfus” in Leuven. The production facility moved to Herent in 1967 and Cargill became the owner in 1984. The output capacity has risen over the last 30 years from 10000 MT to 115000 MT today. The barley is predominantly sourced in France, but also in The Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Denmark. A quarter of our high quality malt, processed in Belgium, is used by domestic European brewers and the Belgian craft sector. Seventy-five per cent of Cargill’s malt is exported to Africa and Asia. The malt is transported via truck (bulk) or barges (containers, bags or bulk). The first inland container terminal of Flanders was built 6 years ago in Herent, as a key location, which enables malt to be shipped via river barges towards the port of Antwerp.
Herent also hosts our European Technical Center (pilot facilities), the European Central Laboratories, the Forwarding Department and the global department for Food safety, Environment, Health and Safety (FEHS). The European malt management team is located in the Cargill Mechelen offices.
Malt’s aim is to be the partner of choice with creative ideas that create distinctive value for targeted brewing customers while ensuring a competitive and sustainable position in the global malt industry.
The main objective of the malting process is to break down the cell walls of the malting barley endosperm, making the starch accessible for the enzymes, also produced during the malting process. In such way, through the mashing and fermentation process, the starch can be converted into sugars and finally alcohol. Malt is a natural product, greatly contributing to the flavor profile, mouth feel and coloration of great Belgian and international beers.
The process consists of three major steps:
- Steeping: The mechanically cleaned malting barley is mixed with water and air alternately. This step takes two days. During this time the barley absorbs the water and begins to germinate.
- Germination: The barley is now transferred to the germinating boxes and is termed “green malt”. Here it remains for an average of 4 days, under mild conditions, continuous aeration and 100% relative humidity.
- Kiln−Drying: After germination the green malt is transported to kilns and dried very gently for two days until it reaches a water content of 4.5%. The rootlets are then removed from the malt grains. The malt is mechanically cleaned and ready for dispatch.
Cargill Herent is certified for ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and GMP.