Planned Independent Barley & Malt facility signs supplier agreement with The Andersons

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LITCHFIELD — Proposed commercial-scale maltster Independent Barley & Malt Inc. has signed an exclusive supplier agreement with Maumee, Ohio-based The Andersons Inc.

Under the terms of the agreement, Litchfield-based Independent Barley & Malt will use The Andersons (Nasdaq: ANDE) to source, supply, deliver and store the malting barley it will use in its operations.

That includes leveraging The Andersons’ transportation and logistics network of trucks, railcars and Great Lakes vessels, as well as storage facilities at the Port of Toledo and in Reading, Mich., where Independent Barley & Malt (IB&M) plans to lease 650,000 bushels, according to a statement.

Backed by a group of investors, Independent Barley & Malt hopes to commission its commercial-scale malt house in Hillsdale County in the fourth quarter of 2020, and targets production of 47,500 tons of malted grains annually. The company aims to serve the craft beer, distilling and specialty food sectors.

Independent Barley & Malt currently is “making progress” on project financing, Mark Schauer, the company’s director of corporate affairs, told MiBiz.

The company is the first tenant announced for Michigan Hub, a $100 million natural gas-fired cogeneration power plant campus that broke ground in October, as MiBiz previously reported.

Schauer said the deal with The Andersons did not include any equity stake in the company. He declined to discuss the timeline for the exclusive supplier agreement, saying that it was “long enough to build a market with intent to extend based on success.”

“Working with IB&M is consistent with our strategic intention to grow income from originations and managing grain assets, expanding trading and risk management services, and broaden our food ingredients and specialty grain platform,” Weston Heide, vice president of food and specialty ingredients at The Andersons Trade Group, said in a statement.

The Andersons “over time” also will work on building a network of local farmers in the vicinity of Independent Barley & Malt’s facility, located in the middle of the state about 20 miles south of I-94 and about 25 miles from the Michigan-Indiana-Ohio border.

Schauer said the company last fall planted a test plot of winter barley in Litchfield that it hopes to harvest this June.

“We will engage a group of Andersons’ growers to plant winter barley in 2019 in the region for harvest [in] 2020,” he said in an email to MiBiz.