Zambian Breweries, part of the world’s largest brewing company – Anheuser-Busch InBev – is upgrading its Lusaka and Ndola plants with new technology worth US$20 million to increase brewing capacity and address beer shortages across Zambia.
The expansion project – over a year in the making – is expected to increase Zambia’s largest brewer’s annual production capacity by a third and in order to meet the country’s growing demand.
AB InBev Brewery Operations Director for Southern Africa Franz Schepping said that the expansion project had previously been scheduled for mid-2020 but disruptions in imports and working conditions caused by the COVID-19 outbreak forced the project’s postponement to this year.
He said: “We had initiated plans to expand our production and fermentation capacity last year, but border closures and the country’s partial lockdown prevented us from acquiring the necessary equipment to complete the works hence we had to postpone the project.”
“This year, Zambian Breweries is investing about US$18 million in our plants. This shows that we have confidence in the market, and we are here for the future. We are also upgrading some technology in the brew house to further raise the quality of beer. This also means that we will be hiring new people in Lusaka and Ndola to utilise the increased capacity.”
The investment includes six new vast fermentation vessels with the capacity of 240,000 litres of beer each, and modern brewing equipment to increase efficiency and quality.
According to Schepping, after these upgrades, the brewery will move to phase two and three within the next two years, which will see the installation of more upgrades that will help Zambian Breweries stay ahead of the country’s demand and keep product quality at peak levels.
To facilitate the upgrades, Schepping advised that each plant would halt production for at least two to three days, noting that the brewer had put in place measures to ensure the market would not be heavily affected.
“Though installation will require temporary shutdown of the plant, we have taken precautions to ensure we minimise the impact on the market. When works on the fermentation units started in Ndola, we had to stop production for three days – which we also used to carry out maintenance on our equipment. We will do the same in Lusaka when works start in May,” explained Schepping.
“We assure our customers of continuous supply, because we have stockpiled sufficient beer of all our brands – Mosi, Castle, Black Label, Castle Lite and Eagle – in our warehouses to cover the closure,” he added.