KENYA – Keroche Breweries, Kenya’s second largest brewer, says that it be spending US$2 million (Shs200 million) to purchase sorghum from farmers by the close of the year.

The chief Executive Tabitha Karanja said the brewer would put farmers on contract to ensure steady grain supply following the recent launch of a new lager ‘KB Lager’, reports Business Daily.

The lager is produced using 70 per cent of white sorghum and 30 per cent barley, which the company says is sourced locally.

“We have just started, and we are going to contact thousands of small-scale farmers … We intend to buy 3,640,000 kilogrammes which will cost us Sh200.2 million (US$2m) that we will pay to the farmers,” she said.

“Currently we are buying sorghum from all farmers across the country and we are happy that the farmers have ready and quality sorghum that our brewmaster is satisfied with and meets the international brewing standards.”

She said the firm would double the amount of sorghum procured from farmers with rising demand. “With time we intend to increase the capacity two times,” she said.

“We are focused on supporting local farmers with its continuous innovation. We will support all cereal farmers in the country to continue growing cereals that meet international standards and suitable for beer brewing,” Tabitha said during the launch of the KB Lager.

She said the brewer, whose Naivasha plant has a daily production capacity of 800,000 bottles of beer, will expand its portfolio to also target the lower end of the alcoholic beverages market.

“We want to introduce more brands into the market and to invest in a keg line for packaging 100 percent non-malted local beer for the lower market, which will also support more farmers,” she said.

Keroche earlier said sales of the drinks targeted at the low-end market are up 50 per cent on the back of renewed fight against illegal brews.

The company targets the expanding middle-class revellers whose tastes are trending toward premium beer. The new KB lager was introduced at a recommended introductory retail price of Sh120 (US$1.2).

Keroche also produces a range of beers and spirts under the brands Summit Lager, Summit Malt Crescent Vodka and Vienna Ice.