Brewery unveils M400m refurbishment

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Bereng Mpaki

MALUTI Mountain Brewery (MMB) has scaled up its production efficiency by expanding and modernising its plant at a cost of over M400 million.

The brewery unveiled the refurbished plant last Friday during an event attended by Trade and Industry Minister Joshua Setipa and other high ranking public, private and civil society officials.

The refurbished components of the plant include the packaging section where the beer bottle washer, filler, labeller, pasteuriser, conveyers and new canning lines for both beer and soft drinks were upgraded.

In the brewing house, new technology to optimize capacity, a new yeast dilution plant, a new effluent treatment plant and a new yeast autolysis plant have been installed, while a beer filter was also upgraded.

MMB Managing Director Thomas Mpedi said the refurbishment would reduce maintenance costs and increase production efficiency to meet market demand especially during peak periods.

“Over the past four years, we have invested over M400 million in refurbishing the plant, which has eliminated a myriad of challenges we have experienced over the years, in particular during peak periods when we could not meet market demand,” he said.

“We are proud to say that over the past two years, we have been able to satisfy demand, our numbers also tell the story.”

Mr Mpedi also revealed the state-of-the-art equipment emanated from German and Italian firms, adding the investment would create jobs for Basotho.

“This milestone in our business enables us to contribute more to the economy of Lesotho, through jobs, taxes, and enterprise development by our retailers and suppliers,” he added.

MMB’s Technical Director Alfred Balikagira indicated the refurbishment had increased the company’s factory efficiency from 60 to 70 percent.

He said the efficiency maximised outputs from given inputs while minimising their costs.

Mr Balikagira also indicated the taste of their beer had also improved as a result of the refurbishment.

“We have a global beer tasting panel for our region based in Johannesburg where we submit our beer samples every month,” he said.

“The rating on their scale is from one to 10, and our beers have continuously maintained a taste rating of above nine up from between seven to eight we had in the past before the investment.”

For his part, Mr Setipa said as a shareholder in MMB, government considered the brewery a jewel in its crown and one of their strategic investments that had performed very well over the years.

“This investment will only serve to enhance that performance,” he said, adding the government would continue to support company to foster the economic empowerment of Basotho.

Mr Setipa said his ministry was in constant discussions with the other shareholders of the company towards increasing MMB’s procurement of raw materials from Lesotho companies.

Meanwhile, Mr Mpedi also announced that MMB had been acquired by new shareholders, Anheuser-Busch InBev NV (abbreviated as AB InBev), which is a global beverage and brewing company from Belgium.

“The company shareholding has evolved over time, and today we introduce AB InBev to MMB’s shareholders. Sixty one percent of MMB is owned locally, with the remainder of 39 percent owned by AB InBev who also manage the company,” he said.

“AB InBev which is the world’s largest brewer by volume, took over SABMiller (the world’s second largest brewer by volume) on October 10th this year to form an even bigger company, and the only truly global brewing company now controlling 30 percent of the world’s alcohol volumes, and the only brewing company represented in all the continents around the globe. Because of this take over, AB InBev is now the world’s largest FMCG (fast-moving consumer goods) company by revenue and profitability in the world.”

Mr Mpedi also said the new shareholder brought in a wealth of experience and diversity to.

“MMB is proud to be a part of the AB InBev family, which presents opportunities for Basotho to participate in setting trends across the world,” he said.

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