Cargill closes down malting factory – because of the craft beer boom

The agriculture giant says one of its North Dakota malt factories will shut in October.
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The closure of a massive Cargill malting facility in North Dakota is a result of the demand for craft beer.

Carhill confirmed to BMTN that it will close its Spiritwood malt facility this October, and it's the result of falling demand for the kind of barley it malts.

The Minnetonka-based firm, the largest privately-owned company in the U.S., says that barley growers in the local area produce "six-row" crops.

But 2-row barley is currently the most popular choice for malting beer among the craft brewing industry at a time when national beer consumption is seeing a major shift to local breweries.

With North Dakotan and Minnesota weather not conducive to 2-row barley growing, Cargill is losing out to crops grown in other parts of the country, forcing to closure of its factory.

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"The decision to close a plant is never easy, but reduced demand for 6-row crops, a ND climate not conducive to the more in-demand 2-row crop and low utilization of the plant made the closure necessary," a spokesperson told BMTN.

"Growers were notified that Cargill would not continue its Contract growing program prior to the 2018 season so they could make alternate contracting and growing choices. I can also confirm that Cargill Malt will honor all existing contracts, supplying malt out of Spiritwood until the end of September 2018."

The closure will result in 55 workers losing their jobs, all of whom will receive severance, as well as the opportunity to apply for jobs at other open positions within the company.

Cargill has two other malting plants in North Dakota, one of which is near Fargo.

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