ETHIOPIA – Malteries Soufflet, the malting division of the French family-owned business Soufflet Group plans to build US$50 million malt processing plant in Bole Lemi Industrial Park, Ethiopia.

The plant, sitting on a 10,000sqm site will have a capacity of 60,000tn of malt a year, according to an article by the Fortune.

The malting factory is the fourth in Ethiopia after Bootmalt, a subsidiary of France’s largest grain cooperative, Axéréal set its foot in the country last December.

Addis Fortune reported that Bootmalt plans to invest US$58.32 million to set up a plant with a production capacity of processing 60,000tn of malt a year

The construction comes after a memorandum of understanding was signed between Soufflet, the Ethiopian Investment Commission (EIC) and the Agricultural Transformation Agency (ATA) back in January 2017.

The Soufflet Group is France’s top private cereal collector, the Group is a major player in supplying arable farmers, and in the vine and wine sector and its Malteries Soufflet is one of the world’s main producers of kilned and roasted malt and caramels.

“The country’s barley production capacity, the malt demand growth coupled with Soufflet’s extensive international experience, promises a successful collaboration,” said Christophe Passelande, general manager of Soufflet Malt Ethiopia.

According to Lelise Leme, CEO of IPDC, the venture creates a market for small barley farmers, provides employment opportunities and saves on foreign currency by reducing its malt import.

“The venture will have multiple impacts on the economy by creating a market for small barley farmers, opening up employment opportunities for the youth, and providing relief to the country’s foreign currency challenge by reducing its malt import,” Lelise said.

“We are pleased with Soufflet’s investment because it marks an intersection between the two and showcases the possibilities for international investment in the country.”

Ethiopia currently imports 70% of its malt to satisfy demand while the rest is supplied some of its top producers including Gonder and Assela Malt factories.

According to the United Nations COMTRADE database on international trade, Ethiopia malt imports from Egypt, whether or not roasted were valued at US$2.11 million during 2016.

Ethiopia’s brewery market has seen significant growth with the entry of international brands such as Heineken which brews Waliya beer.

Heineken has the largest share of the market at four million hectolitres a year while B.G.I Ethiopia, best known for the St. George beer, produces three million hectoliters a year.