MALAWI – Castel Malawi Group, a leading producer and distributor of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages in Malawi is planning to contract local commercial farmers to grow maize and rice to be used as raw materials in the production of malt beer.
The firm’s head of external affairs Godwin Ng’oma revealed this, stating that, “We have been importing about 5,000 to 10, 000 metric tons of these raw materials for our beer production per year.”
Ng’oma said in Madagascar, where Castel Group is also operating, the company works with local commercial farmers on contract and want to replicate the same in Malawi.
Minister of Trade Sosten Gwengwe confirmed that the beverage company is in talks with the government on the plan and that empowerment of locals is a priority to them, reports The Nation Malawi.
“For us, we are looking at import substitution and even exporting to neighboring countries. Apart from import substitution, Castel’s decision to produce malt locally directly provides business to local farmers,” he said.
The minister said government will also enhance the Buy Malawi Strategy campaign to boost local manufacturing firms.
The country’s trade balance i.e. the difference between imports and exports remains wide, with experts blaming it on government laxity in championing economic diversification.
Trade analysts also blame the country’s poor showing on exports on failure to utilize various market preferences under different trade agreements such as the European Union Everything But Arms, the Cotonou Agreement and its successor Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) and the United States African Growth and Opportunity Act.
Castle Malawi is also planning to increase output of Malawi Gin and Sobo Squash for export to earn the country foreign exchange.
The company recently relaunched Sobo Orange Squash drink into the market following the lift of ban on use of food additive tartrazine in production of beverages by Malawi Bureau of Standards (MBS) last month.
The ban on the use of the food additive was effected in 2018 when the standard body took a note of some companies using it following raised concerns by consumers.
This led to laboratory tests conducted on the products and in turn the production companies were forced to halt operations and withdraw their products from the market as MBS conducted further investigations and research.
MBS embarked to research on worldwide use of additive tartrazine, more so after concerned food manufacturers, importers and distributors themselves asked the regulator to reconsider its decision, noting that tartrazine is permitted for use in beverages in some countries.
Countries that permit the use of tartrazine require proper labelling of products to make consumers aware and make informed decision.
After gathering the relevant information the standard body convened a technical committee meeting on alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages on 4th October 2019, where it was recommended to adopt the provision to permit the use of tartrazine in some products covered by some Malawi standards based on the limits set by the European Union Registration (94/36/EC).
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