29 January 2009 | Paul Snell
Global brewer SABMiller plans to increase the number of small farms it buys ingredients from to more than 30,000 by 2012 to boost economic development.
The firm behind beers such as Grolsch and Miller said it plans to expand its projects in India and Africa, and use the model in Latin America and new parts of Africa. The company estimates it will have around 16,829 smallholder farmers, who maintain around 10 hectares or less, in its supply chain in 2009. It wants to increase this by more than 15,000 by 2012.
Encouraging the development of businesses through its supply chain has been one of the company's sustainability priorities in the past year. The brewer estimates that for every person it employs, it creates 40 jobs further down the supply chain.
The firm added that local sourcing also offers improved quality, a more secure supply, and savings through reducing the firm's reliance on imported raw materials.
Graham Mackay, CEO of SABMiller, said in a statement: "A healthy growing environment in the communities where we operate is the key to business success."
The company added that the benefits of providing support had outweighed the cost. Through buying ingredients including sorghum in Uganda and Zambia, the company qualifies for low excise rates. Passing cheaper rates on to consumers has led to sales of Eagle Lager worth more than $43 million (£29 million). The revenue from higher sales has allowed the firm to increase the amount of sorghum it buys locally.
The brewer also intends to use increased local sourcing to grow new crops and try out new ingredients.