South African Brewery (SAB) says it may be forced to destroy over 130-million litres of beer if the government does not allow it to transport the brew to depots.
Transportation and the sale of alcohol is currently illegal under lockdown regulations. The brewery, which makes Castle Lager, Hansa and Black Label, has not been brewing since March 23. They have also not transported their beer since March 27 as per lockdown regulations.
The brewery has reached capacity with roughly 132-million litres of beer on the property, which is equivalent to 400-million bottles of beer sitting in tanks.
Legally the brewery is not allowed to store over a certain amount of beer or bottle the beer under lockdown regulations. If the beer is not bottled and transported the only other option is to destroy it.
The brewery has made a plead to the department of trade and industry this week, asking them to allow transport and packaging of the beer so it may be delivered to depots for storage in the meanwhile.
“For SAB to be able to continue packing the current brew, they have to be able to transport the alcohol to SAB owned warehouses for safekeeping. SAB are not legally allowed to store brewed beer once it reaches a certain capacity. Once breweries reach permissible limits, the alcohol needs to be stored on offsite SAB owned facilities. As the movement of alcohol is not permissible – the beer would in this unique instance need to be destroyed,” SAB told enca.
According to the brewery urgent action is needed to avoid financial losses and a significant number of job losses.
With the destruction of the beer, SAB says they will be forced to operate at half capacity over the next four months, with no bottling or distribution taking place. If the beer is discarded roughly 2000 jobs will be lost. A further R500-million worth of excise tax will be lost as well.
If the brewery is unable to operate,nthe excise tax loss could jump to around R2-billion. To properly dispose of the beer SAB would also face a huge challenge that would take two weeks to complete, with possible environmental risks.
SAB is urging the government to consider their plea and hopes to work with SAPS to ensure the safety of the beer during transport.