Sourcing enough quality barley for malting had been an issue in Zambia since supply from neighbouring Zimbabwe ceased in 2009. But a programme of growing trials with a group of ambitious farmers achieved excellent results, such that Zambia is now self-sufficient in barley production.
With the barley sector established, we have taken the logical next step of investing in a Zambian malting plant. Construction began in October 2014 and when complete the plant will meet local demand and export surplus to other markets in Africa. It is predicted to save Zambia around US$10m a year in import costs and will help sustain some 12,000 rural jobs that in part depend on the barley farming programme.
We’ve also recently invested US$26m to upgrade our opaque beer brewery in Lusaka. The revamped plant, which dates back to the 1960s, will soon be using cutting-edge technology to brew beers that are deeply rooted in African tradition. With an annual production capacity of 1 million hectolitres, the equivalent to 267 million bottles a year, the development will create employment opportunities for up to 260 Zambians.
As for our spiritual home, The South African Breweries (SAB) has invested US$60m in a new state-of the-art maltings plant in Alrode, Gauteng. SAB currently sources about 65% of its barley locally and, once the new maltings plant is up and running, this will potentially increase to between 90% and 95%.