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Largest manufacturing plant ever produced in a single stage.



Maltaria Campos Gerais

In response to buoyant beer demand in South America’s biggest consumer market, a partnership of co-operatives have set their sights on building the world’s largest single-site greenfield malting production plant in Brazil. German engineering expert Zeppelin is supplying the technology for this new record-breaking facility, which is set to have a production capacity of up to 800 tons per day once completed.

German beer has been brewed in accordance with the country’s Purity Law for more than 500 years. Prescribing the use of just four ingredients – i.e., hops, malt, yeast and water – to guarantee good taste – the law made the creations of German brewers internationally famous, providing impetus the world over to replicate this brewing success.

Today, it is Brazil where ambitions to turbo-charge beer-making capacities and capabilities are taking centre, with the news that the Latin American country is to host to what is set to be the world's largest greenfield malt production plant. To realise this major project, a co-operative made up of several companies, including Cooperativa Agrária, is relying on the technologies of Zeppelin Systems – based on the German-headquartered firm’s engineering expertise and track record in supplying complete plants for malt production for more than one decade.

Leveraging on a growth market

Brazilian beer consumption is growing by 3.5 per cent per annum. Yet Brazilian consumers already drink beer brewed from 1.75 million tons of malt per year. Until now, the country has imported more than half of the barley utilised for malt production from abroad. The rising demand for beer – and thus also for malt and barley – therefore requires not only developing the country's own cultivation areas, but also new plants that can convert the mass of malt required.

In addition, drinking behaviours are changing, with consumers increasingly opting for beer varieties with 100-per-cent malt content. The growth forecast within the Brazilian market, combined with such factors, prompted the co-operatives Agrária (Guarapuava), Bom Jesus (Lapa), Capal (Arapoti), Castrolanda (Castro), Coopagricola (Ponta Grossa) and Frísia (Carambeí) to join forces with the aim of developing Maltaria Campos Gerais – the world's largest malting plant to ever be built on a single site.

This plant is expected to produce 700–800 tons of malt per day, corresponding to an annual production of about 240,000 tons of malt and about 14 per cent of consumer demand. For Agrária, this is the second Zeppelin plant of this kind, yet with a much higher capacity. The existing plant is reaching its limits due to evolving consumer demand, and cannot be expanded due to there being no more free agricultural land in the surrounding area. However, the Maltaria Campos Gerais project is located in an area that has an additional 100,000 hectares of land available for barley cultivation.

Process technology from raw material intake to uprooting

Agrária has already relied on the renowned technologies of this plant manufacturer for the first Zeppelin plant. The quality of the components, the overall concept, and the process engineering design convinced the company to the extent that they are now placing an order for the large-scale plant with the same German supplier.

The Maltaria plant in Campos Gerais consists of a steeping building with 24 steeping tanks, two towers with five germination boxes each and two kilns, as well as peripheral equipment. To ensure the required high throughputs with consistently high product quality from raw material reception to uprooting, Zeppelin Systems offers various solutions. For example, the bucket elevator ensures gentle, vertical conveying of the barley into the flow weigher. The automatic flow scales from Zeppelin Systems enable precise weighing, and the user always has all parameters in view, so that the exact amount of barley is fed into the production process and the steeping process can then begin. Here, the barley is moistened until it begins to germinate.

Germination and kilning – high quality and efficiency assured

Germination is a fundamental process step in every malting plant. The Maltaria Campos Gerais plant features 10 round germination boxes distributed over two 65-metre-high concrete towers, each with a diameter of 30.5 metres and a capacity of 400 tons of barley. This Zeppelin technology ensures the handling of large volumes, which is elementary for Agrária, since the large plant will produce malt 365 days a year. In the germination plant, the barley is continuously moistened by air flowing through and ensuring that the barley does not dry out.

In addition, there are two circular kilns with a diameter of 40 metres and a capacity of 400 tons of barley. The kilns are located in adjacent buildings. When it comes to roasting, Agrária relies on Zeppelin Systems’ high-performance equipment, which makes it possible to generate differentiated taste and visual profiles, and thus specifically influence the character of the final product. Between the two kilns, a heat recovery system and automation solutions are used to ensure an extremely efficient process.

All in all, the high quality of the components and smooth running of the individual process steps are deemed elementary for the Maltaria Campos Gerais plant. This is because the breweries have already planned several large orders in Brazil, which are currently ensuring full capacity utilisation of the plant.

Sustainable management for environmentally friendly production

In addition to efficiency and profitability, sustainability is a high priority at Agrária. For this reason, the plant has heat exchangers to recover the heat generated in production. This achieves energy savings up to 20 per cent. In addition, the technology used reduces water consumption.

Investing in the topic of sustainability primarily generates good partnerships internationally, as the customers – invariably large global corporations – likewise place a strong focus on this topic. Accordingly, Cooperativa Agrária is listed with the Sustainable Agriculture Initiative Platform (SAI) and ranked with 20 per cent Gold and 80 per cent Silver level. SAI is committed to building a sustainable agricultural sector and emphasises strong as well as secure supply chains.

Authors: Julia Meyn, Marketing Team Leader / Ricardo Borges dos Santos

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