Kenya Breweries seeks to increase local sorghum supply for Kisumu brewery

KENYA – Kenya Breweries Limited (KBL), a subsidiary of the British alcoholic beverages company Diageo is turning to sorghum farmers in Kakamega County to increase supply of the commodity for its soon to be opened brewery in Kisumu.

The brewer has started a pilot program for local sorghum sourcing in Lugari Constituency.

Success of the project will increase the number of sorghum farmers from 15,000 it has contracted in Homa Bay, Migori, Siaya and Kisumu.

This will enable Kenya Breweries meet its annual demand of 60,000 metric tonnes of sorghum for production of Senator Keg at the US$149.2 million Kisumu plant which is set to open in the next few months.

“We are already recruiting farmers to participate in the pilot programme in Lugari constituency,” said KBL to Business Daily.

The brewer collects the grain from farms but has also contracted aggregators who bring together hundreds of farmers from the same region to deliver the harvest in bulk at the Nairobi and Kisumu plants.

For every kilogramme of sorghum, KBL pays farmers between US$0.31 and US$0.37.

This year, KBL paid US$14.52 million to 60,000 sorghum farmers.

Senator Keg, beer of choice for many

Initially, the brewery will start with a two-year production of Senator Keg beer, a low-priced lager made from sorghum that has seen a rising demand among Kenyan alcohol consumers.

Compared to mainstream beer brands which attract higher excise duty, senator is lowly taxed leading to more consumers favouring it due to its pocket friendly prices.

Kenyans’ thirst for the lower taxed, affordable beer brand necessitated the brewer to raise the output by 20% through refurbishment of the Kisumu brewery and upgrade of its Nairobi plant to boost production.

According to the brewery, demand for Senator has been growing faster than we expected in the past year as more consumers trade up from illicit brews.

Sales of the brand, which is dispensed in mugs from barrels in bars has been rising after the government scrapped its 2013 decision to tax it at the same rate as mainstream beers such as Tusker.

The erupting Kenyan middle class is embracing beer as a past time activity while the poor ones who used to drink illicit brews are turning to low-prized beer like Senator Keg.

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