Wed | Aug 23, 2017

Red Stripe goes bigger with cassava

Published:Monday | May 8, 2017 | 5:00 AMJason Cross
Karl Samuda (seated at centre), minister of industry, commerce, agriculture and fisheries, exchanges documents with Red Stripe Managing Director Ricardo Nuncio (left) and Wentworth Charles (right), chairman, SCJ Holdings Limited, shortly after they signed a lease agreement for lands to cultivate cassava to be used in the brewing of Red Stripe beer. The signing was held at the ministry’s St Andrew office on Friday.

Beer maker Red Stripe has underscored its commitment to use more cassava in its products with a 25-year lease agreement with the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries.

The agreement will give the company access to 610 acres of government-owned land for the expansion of its cassava cultivation operations.

"We have a big dream - that is to replace 40 per cent of our hymultus syrup, which is one of our ingredients used in our beers. We signed contracts with 100 farmers for more than 1,000 acres that are now being planted with cassava," said Ricardo Nuncio, managing director of Red Stripe.

"The project is imperative for us. It's a big part of our strategy going forward. The project is about replacing imported materials with locally produced raw materials."

Said Nuncio: "We are planning to go to 3,000 acres of (cassava) cultivated land. We are now going to be at 1,000 acres of land ourselves, and we plan to sign with another batch of independent farmers."

"This year, we are planning to substitute 20 per cent of corn syrup with locally grown cassava. We are going to be investing in the brewery to be able to process all this cassava. Right now, we have a mill within the brewery that is able to process 20 root tons a day and we are going to make it able to process 100 root tons a day. [This is a] huge investment, plus we are investing in technology," added Nuncio, as he highlighted that many jobs will emerge.

 

LEASES SIGNED

 

The agriculture ministry, through its land management agency, SCJ Holdings, last week signed off on the leases with Red Stripe for two properties in St Catherine, formerly the cane fields of Bernard Lodge Estate.

Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Karl Samuda expressed joy at the prospects of being able to grow out 3,000 acres of cassava, especially since cassava is not very attractive to thieves.

"It is almost impervious to praedial larceny, (plus) it offers opportunities for young people," said Samuda, as he signed the deal.

jason.cross@gleanerjm.com