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SABMiller Launches Affordable Cassava Brew In Ghana

posted 3 Jul 2013, 15:52 by Mpelembe   [ updated 3 Jul 2013, 15:53 ]

SABMiller began selling a beer using the starchy root cassava in Ghana early this year, mirroring a similar product launched in Mozambique in 2011, where SABMiller was able to negotiate a reduced excise tax on cassava and produce a brew 75 percent cheaper than other mainstream beers

 ACCRAGHANA(RECENT)(SABMILLER) -  Cassava thrives in Africa's tropical climates, through drought or floods unlike maize and other crops because of its hardy tuber.

The crop is said to remain in the soil for a couple of years but its main drawback has been that it has to be processed within 48 hours of harvesting or it spoils.

In Ghana where cassava is widely grown, SABMiller, Africa's biggest brewer recently decided to invest in processing the crop into beer.

The company is looking at using cheaper local crops to brew more draft beer and cut the cost of packaging at the same time.

This has the double effect of reducing its import bill and stimulating local economies, which gives the company more opportunity to negotiate with governments on taxes.

The beer, named Eagle Larger mirrors a similar product launched in Mozambiquein 2011, where SABMiller was able to negotiate a reduced excise tax on the cassava and produce a brew 75 percent cheaper than other mainstream beers.

Home to some of the world's fastest growing economies, Africa's thirst for beer is surging: analysts estimate beer volumes rose around 7 percent last year. Excluding the mature South African market, growth reached more than 10 percent. This growth is spurring increased competition.

SABMiller wants to gain an edge over rivals like Diageo and Heineken by luring consumers who drink cheap locally made home brews that comprises 75 percent of alcohol consumed in the region, according to company estimates.

James Boakye Sarfo, brand manager for Accra brewery limited, which brews Eagle larger, a SABMiller's local subsidiary said that the new beer has also helped cassava farmers thrive from the growing the crop.

"It is our expectation that consumers accept this new cassava beer called Eagle Larger that has landed in Ghana so that our subsistence farmers that we are buying cassava from will also get some income to take care of their families and their livelihood," he said.

He added that the venture is expected to benefit more that 1,500 smallholder cassava farmers in the country.

African consumers pay more for beer brands than the global average, acceding to SABMiller, despite being the poorest continent.

But SABMiller said the new brew which will be sold in 375 ml bottles will sell at a price point equal to 70 percent of mainstream lager.

Curious Ghanaians say they are eager to have their first taste of the Eagle brew when it hits the market.

"I have heard of the drink, cassava beer and I'm looking forward to tasting it, I want to experience how unique the taste is and how sweet it will taste in my throat," saidSamuel Arko.

"Our farmers work hard, sometimes their produce go bad because of lack of transportation and all that, so if they are using this means to also harvest cassava to manufacture drink I think it will help," added Godwin Lartey, another Accra resident.

SABMiller wants to produce high quality beer which is affordable to low-income consumers across the continent while at the same time creating opportunities for smallholder farmers.