Beer shortage looms

Staff Writer

A SHORTAGE of beer is looming as supplies of the strategic raw material in lager brewing, malt, could run out in two months.



serif”>Foreign currency constraints on importing additional supplies have worsened the situation.


Zimbabwe produced only 20 000 tonnes of barley last year which is only a quarter of the country’s annual demand. Malt is a by-product of barley.


Prices have also been going up, rising from $420 000 per tonne in August 2003, to $9,5 million per tonne in October 2004. Last month prices were raised to $11,6 million per tonne.


The new crop which will be planted next month will only be harvested in October, meaning the country could be without supplies between June and September.


Regionally, Zimbabwe and South Africa are the only producers of malt. Zimbabwe used to supply 50% of its product to seven countries throughout the region.


Mozambique, Botswana, Zambia, South Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Malawi and Zambia once relied completely on Delta for their malt requirements.


Delta Corporation Ltd’s Kwekwe maltings plant general manager Lukas Rungano referred questions to the company’s group corporate affairs manager, George Mutendadzamera who said the company had enough supplies of barley malt.


“Barley malt will not run out in June as we have enough supplies to cater for the needs of our market,” he said. “The exact figure of last year’s tonnage is in excess of the figure you quote (20 000t). We will not have a shortfall.”


Delta is the country’s largest beverages company and is the holding company for a broad range of interests serving the mass consumer market.


These include lager and sorghum beer brewing, the bottling of carbonated and non-carbonated soft drinks, supermarket and furniture retailing, tourism and various agro-industrial operations.