This month for Craft Master’s “Employee Spotlight,” we had the pleasure of speaking with Mark Black, Malteurop’s Barley Procurement Manager in Great Falls, Montana. Mark has been in the business of grain since 1982, and spoke on his current role at Malteurop, his career, and his take on the state of the beer industry.
Currently, Mark manages Malteurop’s Barley Breeding Program, which has 27 different sites in North America and Canada. This means he is responsible for the entire supply chain of the malting barley. From the field until its finished production, Mark monitors the quality of the barley through each process in the chain before it is ready to be sold to customers.
“We look at the genetics of barley to identify the best strain for each region and customer. We also work with a lot of farmers in Canada and the Northwestern United States to identify best practices and methods for creating the best barley.”
Knowledge of these processes, however, does not come overnight. Mark started his career as a trader for corn and oats with General Mills right out of college in 1982. Raised in Montana, he attended Eastern Montana College and then the University of Montana to continue his education.
Since graduating, Mark has remained in Montana and spent his career trading and procuring grains for a variety of leading grain producing companies. When asked what has kept him in this particular business for so long, Mark responded saying, “Everyday the market changes and your focus has to change. I enjoy the relationships I have made throughout my career with people who are very passionate about what they do.”
And that’s true—the market really does change everyday, especially the craft market, which has experienced tremendous growth in the past year alone. Considering the most recent craft brewing acquisitions by giants like Anheuser-Busch, Mark mentioned that he believes craft beer is here to stay, and commented on the how the commercial interest in craft beer might affect the industry.
“The consumer is now willing to pay for a higher quality taste profile than they were before, but craft is still strong regionally and locally.”
Each brewer is different, and this speaks to the continued success for craft beer as sustainable market rather than a trend, whether that is on a national scale or a local one. In summary, Mark continues to bring valuable insight to Malteurop and Craft Master, and we hope to continue putting people like him first!