SOUTH AFRICA – Anheuser-Busch (AB) InBev Africa and South African Breweries (SAB) have invested US$30.92 million in a new production line launched at SAB’s Ibhayi Brewery in Port Elizabeth.

This is the second line at the brewery, which was commissioned in 2001 with US$45.91 million in investment.

According to Engineering News, the new packaging line is for returnable glass bottles and has the capacity to produce 34500bottles an hour, in910ml and 1L sizes, equating to an additional 500,000 hectolitres of beer packaged a year.

The new line has already created 14 new jobs, with 40 further jobs to be

Created if the line is brought to full capacity.

The company said construction of the new line started in March with the first batch of beer being produced in October.

When fully operational, it has the capability to produce an additional 1.8- million hectolitres a year, which would bring the brewery’s yearly capacity to around 3.6-million hectolitres.

SAB inaugurated the first line at the brewery with an annual production of 230 million litres of beer, plus an ability to process more beer when at its full potential.

The new line currently produces SAB’s 1L Castle Lager and Carling Black Label returnable glass bottles and Castle Lite’s 910ml bottle is expected to run on the line from early 2019.

Other brands from the Ibhayi facility are Hansa Pilsner, Castle Milk Stout and Lion Lager.

The company is further considering expansion of the Ibhayi brewery warehouse to accommodate the increased volume of production, adding another2 000m2 to the plant.

AB InBev’s growth and investment agenda

Following the combination of AB InBev with SAB Miller in 2016, the premier committed to investment on the continent, something that would help in garnering a tangible market share.

At the time of the more than US$100 billion SAB Miller merger, AB InBev made public interest commitments to the South African government and this could way much more and above the constancy.

The public interest commitments involve AB InBev investing over US$70 million in South Africa over the next five years in the areas of agriculture, entrepreneurship and societal benefits.

Zone President at SAB and AB InBev Africa, Ricardo Tadeu, said: “Fixed investment which leads to confidence is one of the key components needed to drive economic growth in a country.

In turn, this helps to create jobs and encourages foreign investment, which is not going to happen if domestic investment does not take place.

“At the onset of the global business combination between SABMiller and AB InBev the agenda was one of growth and investment.

A commitment was made to grow and make a real difference in South Africa and this commitment has been accelerated through the investment at Ibhayi Brewery.

It is an important vote of confidence in the beer category and the South African economy at large.”

On the new production line, he said: “This investment will empower our employees to do what they do best, brewing the best quality beer, innovating and ensuring that we do so in a way that will drive sustainable growth.”