Boortmalt and Axereal build world’s largest malt factory in Flanders

What do the alcoholic beverages Westmalle, Guinness, Jupiler, Carlsberg, Heineken, Chivas Regal and Jameson have in common, apart from great taste? All of them are brewed using malt from Boortmalt. This Flanders-based group, owned by French grain cooperative Axereal, is one of the world’s five largest malting companies. Supported by a significant investment from its parent company, the group’s headquarters in Antwerp is gearing up to become the world’s largest malt production facility.

The Boortmalt Group started out in 1927 as a relatively small malting company near the Leuven-Dijle canal in Boortmeerbeek, Flanders. In over half a century, this local malt house steadily grew and made a name for itself in the region. Two events further changed the fate of the company: the purchase of the Sobelgra silo in 1980, and the group’s 2004 acquisition by Axereal, which already owned a malting plant in France since 1994.

From then on, Boortmalt grew exponentially: in the following decade, production facilities were opened in Croatia and Hungary, and existing malting plants were acquired in the UK and Ireland. Today, Boortmalt is one of the top five producers of malt in the world with a total capacity of over 1.1 million tons of malt per year.

In facts and figures

  • Parent company: Axereal
  • HQ: Olivet, France
  • Annual turnover: EUR 2.8 billion
  • Present in Flanders since: 2004 
  • Subsidiary in Flanders: Boortmalt Group (operational since 1927)
  • Number of employees in Flanders: 130 (+40)
  • Website: www.axereal.com and www.boortmalt.com

Crafting the world’s largest malting site

In 2017, parent company Axereal pledged an investment of EUR 35 million to add a fourth malting unit at Boortmalt’s headquarters in Antwerp, Flanders. The investment will expand Boortmalt Antwerp’s capacity from 360,000 to 470,000 tons per year, the equivalent of 17 billion pints of beer per year, turning the facility into the largest malt production site in the world. In addition, Axereal is investing EUR 15 million in a global malt research and development center at the site. As a result of the investments, Boortmalt is recruiting 40 new employees: 10 to operate the malting unit, and 30 for the laboratory, R&D center and plant.

Why Antwerp? “Demand for malt in South America, Africa and Asia is increasing,” explains Boortmalt’s CEO Yvan Schaepman. “In Antwerp, we have everything we need to supply these growth markets in a fast and efficient way.” The construction of the R&D center and the new malting unit is already well underway. The inauguration is planned for September 2018.

Axereal and Flanders

By acquiring Boortmalt in 2004, French agricultural cooperative Axereal bought itself an important piece of Flanders’ history. Boortmalt’s rapid growth over the subsequent years prove that the leap was worthwhile. Today, the group is supplying malt to world-renowned breweries like AB InBev and Heineken, but also to various ‘craft-breweries’—ensuring the company never loses touch with its product.

“This most recent investment further underlines Axereal’s trust in Boortmalt’s activities going forward,” concludes Yvan Schaepman. “It also shows that our parent company and our minority shareholders—Tereos, Temasek and Unigrains—are confident in the advantages of Antwerp as a central production and distribution hub for malt.”

Picture of Yvan Schaepman, CEO Boortmalt Group

Yvan Schaepman, CEO Boortmalt Group