Highland Grain is an amalgam of two co-operatives, Black Isle Grain Group Ltd, founded in 1977, and Easter Ross Grain Ltd, founded in 1988. All of these businesses were founded through a desire of the local growers to better themselves and to add value to their products. Ownership of the business, which remains totally independent after more than 35 years, has always rested with the members, who have invested in their future, through Highland Grain. These growers have also shown that they are prepared to take responsibility for their product by dealing directly with maltsters and distillers. Much of the investment has been made in fixed plant and equipment but there has also been considerable investment in establishing, and retaining, markets.
The original business dried and stored less than 5,000 tonnes, produced by the 12 original Members in 1978. The facility, at that time, consisted of 3 wet storage silos (approx. 800 tonnes in total) and 4 dry storage silos (total capacity 4,400 tonnes), along with 2 Cimbria continuous flow dryers. Over the ensuing years, the business has grown to the extent that it now has 89 Members producing over 40,000 tonnes of malting barley annually. The facility now consists of 7 wet storage silos (approx. 2,000 tonnes total capacity), 15 dry storage silos (total of 25,000 tonnes) and 2 flat stores (total 15,000 tonnes), along with 4 Cimbria dryers and 1 Alvan Blanch dryer.
We estimate that Highland Grain handles around 40% of the malting barley produced in its catchment area.
The one thing that has not changed in the whole history of Highland Grain and its predecessors is the ethos of co-operation and direct Member benefit.