JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — African home brew has gone commercial.
Brewing giant SABMiller on Tuesday launched a lager called Impala, the world's first commercially produced cassava beer. The company says it is aimed at an emerging market of rural, low-income Africans who are currently drinking home brew.
Cassava is a starchy root vegetable that is a staple food in parts of Africa, as well as in Southeast Asia and in South America, where it is a native plant. Cassava has long been used by home brewers in rural villagers.
Impala beer, which is 70 percent cassava and 30 percent barley, is aimed at "lower income consumers in Africa," SABMiller, the world's second-biggest brewing company, said in a news release.
A 550ml bottle of Impala, which is named after the African antelope, will sell in Mozambique for 25 meticals, or about $0.94. The beer is said to have a slightly sour taste.
Mark Bowman, managing director of SABMiller Africa, said:
"We estimate that the volume of the informal, unregulated alcohol market across Africa could be up to four times that of the formal market. By using locally sourced raw materials, we are able to create high quality, affordable products for consumers who would otherwise be drinking informal or illicit alcohol."
The beer will be brewed in northern Mozambique by SABMiller subsidiary Cervejas de Mocambique. If successful it will be rolled out in other African countries, with South Sudan on the potential list for next year.
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