Molson Coors is hoping to reinforce its '100% British Barley' Carling campaign by strengthening relationships with its barley growers through the creation of a farming group.

Carling has signed 70 UK growers up to a three-year deal to supply 20,000 tonnes of barley direct to the company on preferential terms, cutting out the middlemen.

The suppliers are all sited near Carling's malting facility in Burton, reinforcing the brand's local credentials.

The Carling marketing team has met with farmers to discuss why British barley has become a central feature of the beer's brand proposition and how they see the brand evolving. The partnership will discuss ways to ensure high-quality supply, through possible co-operation on buying new plant and facilities or using spent grain as animal feed.

"Great raw materials are essential to brew great beer," said Molson Coors strategic sourcing manager Jerry Dyson. "By building great working relationships with trust on both sides, a forum is established where not only is there that focus on barley quality, but also opportunities for adding value for both the grower and Molson Coors."

The initiative reflected a shift in marketing tactics by major drinks companies away from lifestyle advertising to transmitting quality messages, said brand consultant Giles Lury.

"The 100% British Barley claim is a great example of recession advertising. It communicates that there is something intrinsic about the product that makes it worth a premium, so it's still value for money, even in a downturn."