Is it beer? Is it milk? Hello, Bilk!
A Japanese liquor store owner in the country’s largest dairy farming region has decided to put the region’s surplus milk to good use by making beer with it. Chitoshi Nakahara, head of the Nakahara liquor shop on the northernmost island of Hokkaido, said the idea came about as a result of the huge milk surplus on the island. Nakahara’s new brew is called “Bilk” and consists of about 30% milk. It also contains hops, and the production process is similar to that used to make regular beer. According to Nakahara, Bilk looks and tastes like ordinary beer, but it has a slightly milky smell. Bilk has been on sale since 1 February. – Gwenda van Zyl
Huge drop in Oz crop forecast
A summer crop disaster is looming in Australia with forecasts of a production fall of 59% in 2006/07 to about 1,9 million tons – the smallest in 20 years – as most of the main growing areas remain in the grip of drought. The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics said in a report that severe drought conditions experienced throughout the major cropping areas of Australia have resulted in significant depletions of soil moisture profiles and have led to some of the lowest water storage levels on record. As a result, the total summer crop area is estimated to have declined by about 53% in 2006/07 to 743 000ha. The area planted to rice has fallen to 12 000ha – 89% below the area planted in the previous year. Similarly, the area sown to cotton is estimated to be 57% lower at about 143 000ha. – Alan Harman
British meat exports blast off
La m b shipments led the way as exports of British meat and livestock products crashed through the £1 billion barrier for the first time in more than 10 years. Preliminary figures released by the Meat and Livestock Commission show beef and lamb exports both increasing, with sales of lamb abroad reaching £230 million, beef at £90 million and pork exports at £100 million. In its first year of full export trading, British beef exports reached more than 40 000 tons – way above the original estimate of 30 000 tons. – Alan Harman