SABMiller’s “virtuous circle”
Cassava beer launch good news for Ghana
SABMiller’s use of indigenous starch sources in Africa has expanded into Ghana with the launch this month of Eagle, a cassava-based beer.
Cassava is a relative newcomer in commercial beer production with the world’s first, Impala, launched by SABMiller 18 months ago in Mozambique. Yet in Ghana SABMiller is second to market, with Diageo having introduced its first cassava-based beer, Ruut Extra Premium Beer, this past January.
Use of cassava creates numerous benefits. Brewers are working with a crop that often goes to waste; subsistence farmers are brought into the formal economy; reliance on cheap, unhealthy alcohol is marginalised; and the government is gifted with a new income stream.
As SABMiller Africa managing director Mark Bowman explained, “Eagle is aimed at attracting low-income consumers away from illicit alcohol. This is a virtuous circle: smallholder cassava farmers have a guaranteed market for their crop, which is then used to make consistently high quality, affordable beer for consumers; and the government realises increased revenues as people trade up into formal, taxable alcohol consumption.”
Cassava degrades quickly, a problem overcome with use of a mobile processing unit that travels to the growing regions. The designer of the processing unit, the Dutch Agricultural Development and Trading Company, is partnered with SABMiller as well in Mozambique.
Sold in 375ml bottles, Eagle is retailed at a price point equal to 70% of mainstream lager. This is made possible thanks to a reduced excise rate agreed with the Ghanaian government, in recognition of the social and economic contributions of cassava utilisation to the country.
Photo credit: Andrew Molyneaux