“Brewing a Better Future” in Haiti

Sep 18, 2014 10:00 PM ET
“Brewing a Better Future” in Haiti

“Brewing a Better Future” in Haiti

Local sourcing is at the heart of HEINEKEN’s “Brewing a Better Future” sustainability strategy. In Haiti, HEINEKEN has committed to purchase locally sourced sorghum, improving the lives of over 18,000 farmers under the SMASH project.

Ever since early 2012, when HEINEKEN consolidated its majority ownership of Brasserie Nationale d’Haiti S.A. (BRANA), it has invested a significant resources and energy into growing Haiti’s leading beverage company, whilst at the same time strengthening the local economy. HEINEKEN committed to improving BRANA’s operations, crucially underlining its confidence in the region’s economic outlook. Approximately $20 million went to the construction of a fifth production line that opened in December last year, allowing the brewery to double bottled beer output. Another $20 million is going to expanding the brew house which BRANA will inaugurate in December. The remaining investment is being used to manufacture more bottles and purchase trucks and generators.

Such rapid development might lead some to conclude that Haitian consumption levels are going through the roof, but that is not the case. At just 1.7 hectolitres per capita per annum, Haiti represents the lowest beer consumption level in the region by some margin. However, recent trends indicate that consumption levels are poised to grow and with a 95% share of the beer market, HEINEKEN is well-positioned to benefit from this trend.

Whilst significant investment is focused on growing HEINEKEN’s beer portfolio, BRANA is equally popular with locals for its carbonated malt beverage, “Malta H”. Brewed from barley, hops and water, the soft drink is truly part of the Haitian heritage and loved by children, adults and old generations alike. But as a result of a lack of investment in Haiti’s agricultural sector, Malta H was traditionally reliant on imported commodities. This all changed in 2012 when BRANA launched the Smallholders Alliance for Sorghum in Haiti (SMASH) at the Clinton Global Initiative Summit in New York. Addressing issues such as poor soil quality, effective seed germination and efficient harvest yields, SMASH was created to provide smallholder farmers with training in modern agricultural techniques and guarantee buyers for its produce.

Last year BRANA signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the US Agency for International Development (USAID) to extend the reach of the programme, allowing BRANA to source from a total of three separate regions of the country. BRANA is investing $3.4 million into SMASH and USAID will contribute $1.7 million to support this program and advance its mission to improve food security in rural Haiti. The brewery has committed to purchase at least 5,000 metric tons of locally produced sorghum in place of imported malt for the production of Malta H. The programme is expected to involve more than 18,000 small-scale farmers.

The SMASH initiative forms part of BRANA’s five year local sourcing programme and is a fundamental part of HEINEKEN’s global sustainability project “Brewing a Better Future”. By carefully nurturing and supporting the agricultural industry the brewer’s goal is to source at least 20% of all raw materials for its brewed products from the region. This goal might well be realised sooner than anticipated. Since the launch of SMASH in 2012, Haitian farmers have already increased sorghum yields by 100%, almost doubling their incomes in the process. The achievements were celebrated last month by dignitaries and government officials in an event hosted by SMASH to welcome the new harvesting season.

Brewing a Better Future: It is HEINEKEN's strategy for creating shared, sustainable value: for our company, for society and for the planet. And it is fundamental to how we do business. Developed with our stakeholders and based on insight into global trends, our strategy focuses on the four areas where we can make the biggest difference: water, CO2, local sourcing and responsible consumption. These are underpinned by our values and behaviours: living our values, leading by example, and working together to make a difference.