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Craft brewers and distillers to focus on innovation and collaboration to help re-boot the industry

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Hard-hit craft brewers and distillers brace themselves for a rocky business restart

South Africa’s liquor industry, particularly craft distillers and brewers, have been hard hit by the protracted lockdown and ban on the sale of alcohol, with fears that many may not be able to survive.

Expecting to take years to recover, the sector hopes that it may survive by collaborating and innovating. This emerged during an online panel discussion hosted this week by Messe Muenchen South Africa, the organisers of the food & drink technology (fdt) Africa trade fair, which will be held in July 2021.

Moderated by Clive Belcher, Chairperson of the Institute of Brewing & Distilling (IBD) Africa sector and MD of Global Beverage Solutions, the panel included Craft Beer Association South Africa (CBASA) Chairperson Wendy Pienaar, Brew Master and founder of Brewsters Craft Apiwe Nxusani-Mawela, Southern African Craft Distilling Institute (SACDI) Secretary Pro Tem. Hendré Barnard, and “The Brewmistress” Brew Writer Lucy Corne.

Panellists noted that the sudden lockdown had left brewers with beer still in tanks, had dried up key contracts and cash flow, and had negatively impacted supply chains, meaning that most would be unable to pick up production immediately on the lifting of a ban on alcohol sales.

Nxusani-Mawela said: “Brewing beer is a process – it takes three weeks, so restarting won’t happen overnight. In addition, cash flow is a problem, so buying raw materials and packaging will be a tight squeeze – if we can source these at all. It won’t be easy.”

Pienaar added: “There are also operational issues to consider – like getting staff safely to work, and making the brewery safe for customers and staff. Even if the ban is lifted, it won’t be the end of the challenges we will face.”

In addition to challenges brewers and distillers would face in obtaining yeast, hops, botanicals and bottles, Barnard noted that producers would likely find that neutral spirits would be diverted for making sanitiser. “If producers are able to access alcohol, they might be able to get production up and running in around a week after the ban is lifted, but distillers and brewers will take a lot longer.”

Also Read: Sustainable Tourism Development In Africa: Interview With Thomas Müller, CEO, rainmaker

Survival strategies

Noting that craft brewers and distillers had been achieving slow growth even before the ban, the panelists said there would be tough times ahead for the entire sector.

However, craft brewers and distillers could potentially survive by innovating and collaborating.

Barnard said the first market likely to open after than ban was online sales, “Craft brewers and distillers who haven’t done so yet need to get an online sales portal live in the next week, or they could miss that opportunity.

He also noted that the market would become more price sensitive, and that brewers and distillers would have to prepare for this: “We need to face the very real possibility that the market is going to change – we are in a recession, and the first thing that suffers will be luxury goods. This is not going to be a return to normal business, and we need to prepare ourselves. Some things will become more expensive to produce – certain raw materials and bottles will be more expensive. So, if you are spending R50 -60 on packaging, you need to consider rebranding, using cheaper packaging, and passing the savings on to consumers.”

Pienaar said collaboration could help the industry survive: “We need to think about buying as a consortium, working together, becoming more creative in using what is available. We also need to do market research to make sure that we are producing what the market wants and will move quickly.”

Corne echoed this view, saying craft brewers and distillers could look at offering lockdown specials, and could put on hold bottling and canning and instead look at selling beer in 2 litre refillable ‘growlers’ to cut costs. “It’s going to be difficult, financially the industry is going to be really struggling, but customers will also be struggling financially, so the industry needs to look at products the market can afford.”

Now is the time for brewers and distillers to work on industry collaborations, market awareness and innovative new ways to go to market, the panelists said. They should also be preparing to reopen production by sourcing the safety equipment and personal protective equipment their factories and staff would need once the ban on alcohol production was lifted.

“Food & drink technology Africa has always been a hub of local and international industry collaboration and innovation, and as the world adapts in this new environment, we are committed to working with stakeholders to help them overcome the emerging challenges,” says Dain Richardson, Senior Exhibition Manager of food & drink technology Africa.

Challenges, solutions and emerging trends in the craft brewing and distilling sector will come under the spotlight at food & drink technology (fdt) Africa, the biennial trade fair for the pan-African food & drink sector next year. The fourth edition of this exhibition will be held from July 13 to 15, 2021, at the world class Gallagher Convention Centre.

Food & drink technology Africa

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Releaf Partners with IITA to Improve Growth and Sustainability in Oil Palm Production

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Releaf VP Sourcing – Ayodeji Jayeoba (left), Nteranya Sanginga – DG, IITA (Middle) Ikenna Nzewi – CEO, Releaf (Right) (Image: Supplied)

Releaf, an agtech startup that develops proprietary hardware and software solutions that makes African farmers and food factories more efficient and profitable, has partnered with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture to improve growth and sustainability in oil palm production in Nigeria and across Africa.

The partnership will enable the startup and the award-winning research-for-development organisation to explore ways to increase oil palm yields, deploy the best intercropping mechanisms, and work with fabrication and mechanisation experts to foster further innovation and development in Nigeria’s smallholder-driven oil palm sector.

Despite having 80 percent of market share, 4 million smallholder farmers in Nigeria’s oil palm sector are unable to maximise the opportunity available to them. Due to relatively low yields and limited access to adequate processing equipment. Releaf has invented Kraken – West Africa’s most advanced palm nut de-sheller. Which can process up to 500 metric tons of palm nuts per week to produce premium palm kernel products at 95% purity, better than the 88% industry standard. Releaf also works with farmers to improve their output. By encouraging the adoption of best practices to increase their yield. And supporting farming activities that are good for the environment.

In the early 1960s, Nigeria was the world’s largest oil palm producer with a global market share of 43 per cent. Today, it contributes less than two percent of total global production. IITA will support Releaf with soil fertility analysis, access to its facilities, oil palm management programmes and leaf analysis for improved productivity. The partnership will also explore how insect waste can be recycled into organic waste that can be used to fertilise oil palm or as a source of nutrition for livestock.

According to Ikenna Nzewi, CEO and co-founder of Releaf, “IITA has a long and rich history of working with international and national partners to impact agricultural value chains. And we are really excited to be partnering with them. IITA also represents the beginning of the journey that led me to co-found Releaf and I am grateful for the opportunity to take this relationship forward. Oil palm is one of our most ubiquitous plants and we must continue to develop technology to improve its sustainable impact on rural communities’ livelihoods.”

IITA Director General Nteranya Sanginga said, “We are really impressed by what Releaf has already achieved in such a short space of time. I recall our first meeting with Ikenna in 2015 and it is great to see what that first encounter has led to. Investing in research and development is always a great advantage for everyone. And we are looking forward to working with Releaf to explore more ways to add value across the agricultural value chain.”

 

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Social media main enabler for growth among women-owned businesses

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95% of women SMEs in the region identify social media channels as the top tool to drive their business ventures

Mastercard, the Official Payment Technology Partner of Expo 2020 Dubai, and Female Fusion Network unveiled new research at the first in a series of workshops for the region’s female entrepreneurs at the world’s largest cultural gathering.

Held at Expo 2020 Dubai’s Women’s Pavilion, in collaboration with Cartier, the session focused on the power of the digital economy in enabling women-owned businesses to go online. In a study conducted among Female Fusion’s network of 20,000+ members across the region, it was revealed that 95% of women SMEs in the region identify social media channels as the top tool for their business ventures. Other channels include their own e-commerce websites (72%) as well as messaging services such as Facebook and Whatsapp (50%).

In addition, three out of four (72%) women-owned businesses said they rely on word of mouth to market their products and services. The workshop identified how SMEs can make the most of their online footprint, and better connect to their consumers in a digital economy.

Speakers included Ngozi Megwa, Senior Vice President, Digital Partnerships MEA, Mastercard, Sarah Beydoun, Founder and Creative Director of social impact fashion business Sarah’s Bag in Lebanon, Ioanna Angelidaki, co-founder of Instashop, and Maureen Hall, Founder and CEO of COÉGA Sunwear.

“The findings from the study indicate a clear need for further education and empowerment. Mastercard has long pushed for the success and growth of women as we break gender barriers around the world. Digital tools and technologies are the greatest equalizer for businesses and as the shift towards e-commerce becomes increasingly permanent, we are committed to helping women businesses go digital and grow digital as they pursue their entrepreneurial passions,” said Ngozi Megwa, Senior Vice President, Digital Partnerships MEA, Mastercard.

The recent unveiling of the inaugural Mastercard MEA SME Confidence Index also revealed that in terms of a digital footprint of the region’s women entrepreneurs, social media (71%) leads the way followed by a company website (57%).

“We are proud of the successful launch of our workshop series in partnership with Mastercard. As a growing community of ambitious women leaders, Female Fusion Network looks to support our members with access to platforms that offer simple yet effective takeaways for them to grow their business. We look forward to having more of these impactful sessions during Expo 2020 Dubai,” said Jennifer Blandos, Managing Partner, Female Fusion Network.

Mastercard has made a global commitment to connect 25 million women entrepreneurs to the digital economy by 2025 as part of its goal to build a more sustainable and inclusive world. As part of its efforts, the technology leader recently launched  ‘The Entrepreneur’s Odyssey’ a first-of-its kind digital education platform that brings together a range of world-class academic and business resources to help small businesses learn and thrive.

 

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Acronis, Cyber Protection Leader appoints Technology Veteran Paul Maritz, as Chairman of the Board

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Acronis Board Chairman, Paul Maritz (Image: Supplied)

Acronis, a global leader in cyber security and data protection, today announced that Paul Maritz has been appointed as the Chairman of the Board of Directors, effective September 21, 2021. Maritz will be responsible for the governance and leadership of Acronis as it strengthens its position in the service provider market preparing for significant growth in the future.

Earlier this year, Acronis raised $250M at a $2.5B valuation, and announced former GoDaddy’s partners business president, Patrick Pulvermüller, as the new chief executive officer. The strengthened management team will use the momentum to provide Acronis’ partners with the tools that they need to deal with a rapidly changing digital world.

The challenge of providing MSPs with effective tools to manage the environments of their customers is becoming increasingly complex, particularly in a world where security is becoming an overwhelming issue. Security can no-longer be handled by having an SMB end customer put together a plethora of individual tools. Modern threats have exposed the need for an integrated approach and automated cyber protection that solves the safety, accessibility, privacy, authenticity, and security (SAPAS) challenges of the modern digital world.

Acronis Cyber Protect provides all the management tools of the future that service providers need to do an effective job for their customers to help them grow their business. As well as developing its own technology, Acronis will continue to make acquisitions to become one of the world’s major players of providing the most innovative backup, security, and management tools on the market. Over 12,000 service providers trust Acronis Cyber Protect to manage over 2,000,000 workloads around the world, positioning Acronis for even more company growth in the future.  

“Paul brings a wealth of experience developing products to meet market demands and take companies to the next level. His becoming Chairman represents another step forward for Acronis in solidifying its position as a global leader in cyber protection. Paul’s experience with innovations at scale will help us to continue delivering easy, efficient, and secure cyber protection to service providers and their customers of any size,” said Patrick Pulvermüller, Acronis CEO.

“With its strength in backup and security, Acronis is well positioned to build a platform for a comprehensive list of management tools, helping service providers deliver modern cyber protection to their customers today and in the future. Acronis Cyber Protect is a great example of what can be done. Acronis will continue extensive research and development in this direction, helping partners optimize their operations and stay ahead of the competition,” said Paul Maritz, Acronis Chairman of the Board.

Maritz first joined the Board of Directors in May 2021, bringing 40 years of experience in computer science and software to the cyber protection company.

In his previous executive roles, Paul served on the Executive Staff of Microsoft, was the CEO of VMware, and was CEO and Founder of Pivotal Software. Paul currently is an active investor and serves on the Boards of several start-up technology companies.

Paul graduated with a degree in Mathematics and Computer Science from the Universities of Natal and Cape Town. He is active in the nonprofit world, served for 10 years on the Board of the Grameen Foundation, which supports financial inclusion and technology in the developing world, and supports conservation efforts in Africa.

Paul Maritz replaces René Bonvanie, whose leadership helped Acronis develop an effective strategy to expand global presence and deliver easy, efficient, and secure cyber protection to customers of any size. Acronis wishes to thank René Bonvanie for his contribution to the company development and growth.

 

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