In large swathes of Africa beer has long been made from local crop cassava. Home-
brewed, it takes on a variety of forms, usually cloudy, without any foam to speak of
and with a chunky consistency – almost like liquid muesli and by no means to
everyone’s taste. The first brewery to have risen to the challenge of making a
drinkable beer from the plant also known as manioc or yuca is Cervejas de
Moçambique or CDM. In 2011 the company launched one of the first commercial
cassava beers in Africa to market under the brand name of Impala. 70% of the starch
used comes from the root vegetable instead of from wheat or barley malt. A long
development phase ultimately produces a beverage that is yellow and fruity and
slightly cloudy in the glass. With its white head of foam it looks like a normal lager
and has a surprisingly refreshing taste
Impala has proved a roaring success for CDM in a number of respects: by procuring
local ingredients, the brewery secures the livelihood of small farmers in the region
and creates lots of jobs in agriculture. The state honors this commitment – as it does
the fact that the beer produced is a professional substitute for the harmful own brews
concocted by its citizens. Thanks to a lower tax rate, the new beer can be sold for
about 30% less than the usual price. With more than a million bottles sold per
annum, this has helped to make Impala a huge success – one that has long been
emulated in a number of other African countries and by various breweries.
In addition to showing innovative spirit, CDM also sets great store by tradition.
Privatized in 2005 during the restructure of the market economy in a country
previously under socialist rule, the company now unites all of Mozambique’s
established beer brands in its portfolio. This primarily includes 2M brewed since
1950, the name of which is reminiscent of French president Patrice de MacMahon. In
1875 he acted as mediator in the conflict between Portugal and England over what is
now the capital Maputo and is accordingly admired in this Southwest African country.
Laurentina, the first beer ever brewed in Mozambique in 1932 – and still a regular
award-winner – is another running favorite. With a turnover of around €300 million (in
2021), the brewery now largely owned by the AB InBev Group is by far the largest
local beer producer and market leader.
New site with potential
This status has been earned by CDM’s consistent strategy of growth and continuous
increase in capacity. Not so long ago in 2010 a third factory was opened in Nampula
in the north of the country in addition to the existing facilities in the capital Maputo
and Beira further north up the coast. Just eight years later the foundations were laid
for a further greenfield project in Marracuene a few kilometers outside Maputo. Here,
production started up with a capacity of 1.6 million hectoliters a year. In view of the
fast-growing population and increasing demand for high-quality beer, this rapid
development has not yet come to an end, however; the production site has been designed in such a way that it can be easily expanded over the coming years to cope
with a capacity of six million hectoliters.
The heart of the new location is a returnable glass line from KHS, on which up to
80,000 550-milliliter bottles per hour can be filled – the format that accounts for about
95% of total sales. This line capacity is extremely high for the African continent,
explains Tobias Zeimentz, who as key account manager at KHS is responsible for
customer AB InBev the world over. “In this region it’s rare to find more than 40,000
bottles per hour being processed.”