SOUTH AFRICA – The South African Breweries (SAB), subsidiary of AB InBev has halted its production activities following the extension of the government’s alcohol sales ban as part of lockdown regulations.

Government instituted the ban at the end of June as South Africa was hit by a deadly third Covid-19 wave in order to keep hospital beds available for Covid-19 patients and free of alcohol-related trauma cases. The ban was extended on 10 July.

“As SAB goes into a sales ban, it implements an orderly wind-down process by which the brews that are in progress are completed and no new brews are started,” the company told Fin24.

The country’s largest beer maker, added that it could not confirm whether this would result in shortages once the ban is lifted, but said it exacerbates the pressure the industry is under.

SAB also confirmed that its Pietermaritzburg depot was looted and “left bare”, while its Denver depot in Johannesburg has had minor damage.

The Carling Black Label beer maker added that one of its distributors had also been looted resulting in vehicle damage and stock loss.

The company is being assisted by police, private security companies and the South African National Defence Force, to keep its property safe.

“As SAB goes into a sales ban, it implements an orderly wind-down process by which the brews that are in progress are completed and no new brews are started.”

South African Breweries

SAB turns brewery waste into spinach

In other related news, SAB, has collaborated with its partners, WWF South Africa and The Nature Resource Management Programme, to release approximately 2.5 billion litres of water into rivers and basins over the past 6 months through watershed investment.

The initiative has been undertaken through its recently launched Project Popeye in Ibhayi.

“Just like the e cartoon, hero and sailor man Popeye saved his beloved Olive Oyl with a healthy dose of spinach, so too is the South African Breweries (SAB) providing economic salvation to a local start-up business near its Ibhayi Brewery in the Eastern Cape through this same green superfood,” stated the company. 

In what has become aptly known as Project Popeye, SAB, through its Ibhayi Brewery and the Project Eden Water Conservation Park (another SAB initiative that involved the construction of an artificial wetland), will be developing a commercial 2000m2 drip irrigation system, that will help a local business sustainably grow spinach in raised beds.

The unique value of Project Popeye is that the water and nutrient requirements of the crops are fully provided for by the wastewater generated in the brewing process, with no requirement for additional water or fertilizers.

The losses from production normally become a waste management liability for a business and, all too frequently, society or the receiving environment.

In SAB’s unique approach, these nutrients can be transformed into a new agricultural product. This turns a potential loss into a sustainable business with a literally green product – true circularity in action.

SAB has taken the economic impact of Project Popeye a step further as it has pledged to offer a capital investment to kick-start the agricultural ventures linked to Project Popeye with local Business TaylorMade Water Solutions (TMWS).

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