Namibia Breweries, which produces one of Namibia’s leading export brands, Windhoek Lager, says it has a long way to go before it can produce the beer from local barley.
NBL’s current annual requirement is 25,000 tons of malted barley, which is all imported from Europe.
At the moment, NBL grows 1300 tons of barley locally, from 400 hectares of irrigated land made available in the AgriBusDev green scheme localities.
“Our ability to ramp up local production is dependent on a number of variables, so it is not possible to give indications of timelines until the project has undergone a review based on the current learnings,” NBL Global Marketing Manager, Rene Duffy, said in an interview.
In 2016, Ohlthaver & List, the mother company of NBL, invested at least N$6.5 million in the barley project.
NBL has committed to the 10-year Barley Industry Development Plan implemented in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, as well as AgriBusDev.
“The desired outcome of this plan is to establish a sustainable barley industry. This would translate into the creation of additional job opportunities in rural agricultural sectors within Namibia – a major contributor to the O&L Group’s vision of creating 4 000 additional job opportunities by 2019,” Duffy said.
NBL conceptualised King Lager to encourage the development of the local barley industry.
“Part of the current 1300 tons harvested in Namibia is used in King Lager - the country’s first beer containing un-malted barley. While King Lager is very young in the market and still growing into an appreciated brand with the Namibian consumer, NBL is committed to grow the equity of the brand and will thus continue to invest behind it, because the relationship between the two has immense potential to contribute greatly to the development of the Namibian agricultural sector, and also to benefit communities,” Duffy said.
She refused to divulge information on new products the company is planning to introduce this year. “Unfortunately our innovations remain confidential until we launch. We are thus not in a position to share any such information at this stage.”
Talking about water saving measures, Duffy said NBL will continue to invest into additional water reclamation options and into new equipment components which work with higher efficiency regarding water consumption.
NBL confirmed in its annual report that it was looking at the feasibility of setting up brewing capability in areas of reduced water risk.
“NBL is currently evaluating various locations, however there are no final decisions made yet.”
The company is also looking at expanding its market presence in East Africa this year.
“Tanzania and Kenya will be the main focus for the 2018 financial year, with minimal presence in Uganda. We are currently exploring the Ethiopian market.”
In the financial year ended 30 June, NBL revenue grew by 11.7 percent to reach N$2.7 billion, with operating profit up by 13 percent to N$611 million. Profit attributable to shareholders of N$318 million was delivered, a decrease of 14.5 percent on the prior year.