SAB has already started pouring 6.5 million liters of beer after no agreement could yet be reached with the government on the transport of alcohol during the nationwide state of total lockdown. That’s about 20 million bottles of beer.
At this stage, SAB has about 132 million liters of beer – or about 400 million bottles – already brewed and in tanks. A brewery can only store a certain amount of brewed beer. When this quantity is reached, the beer must be moved to a storage facility.
That’s the shift that isn’t currently allowed, Zoleka Lisa, SAB’s vice president for corporate affairs, said on Friday.
It is unclear why this is not allowed because the export of wine for export purposes is permitted under the lockdown regulations.
The distance that SAB wants to travel to transport the beer from its brewery to one of its storage facilities is about 500 m, Lisa said.
According to her, SAB received three days’ notice prior to the closing period to stop its operations. At that stage, there were already millions of liters of beer in the brewing process. The process cannot be stopped immediately and the finished brewed beer must now be moved – or it must be dumped.
“If we have to throw away the beer, it will take us almost four months to reach our full capacity again, because there is a specific process that must be followed to dump the beer.
SAB has already stopped brewing any new beer on March 23. Just under two weeks later, the ban on the transport of alcohol was also announced.
“At this stage we are simply trying to protect our stock. We do not ask to resume trading, but if transport is possible for export, we advocate that the same transport should be allowed for storage purposes, ”Lisa said.
She said SAB had already given an undertaking that it would ensure the safe transport of the stock and take all safety measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
If all 132 million liters of beer were eventually to be dumped, it would mean a loss of R150 million in stock for SAB, as well as a loss of R500 million in excise duty for the government.
Lisa said the government had not yet provided feedback on the issue.