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Drinks

South African Breweries Turns To Lime Farming To Support Corona Beer

By Reuters
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South African Breweries Turns To Lime Farming To Support Corona Beer

'Paradise is best served with lime,' states one of the taglines in Anheuser-Busch InBev's advertisement for its premium Corona beer, which is typically served with a slice of lime wedged in the neck of the bottle.

But as the Mexican-origin beer gained popularity in South Africa, a domestic shortage of limes threatened the essence of the drinking ritual, prompting AB InBev's South African Breweries (SAB) to invest 19 million rand (€930,000) in a local lime farming project in the northern Limpopo province.

"The challenge is that less than 10% of citrus farm land in South Africa was dedicated to lime," SAB corporate affairs vice president Zoleka Lisa told Reuters.

"So there was actually a shortage of limes ...it meant that we were importing. Now imported limes means that you never know when they'll be available and secondly it also drives costs (up)."

Wandile Sihlobo, chief economist of the Agricultural Business Chamber of South Africa, said much of the lime produced in South Africa is exported.

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Lime Farming Project

SAB partnered in 2020 with the Moletele community which provided the land in the province and Komati Fruit Group to establish and run the farming project that largely serves the maker of Carling Black Label beer.

The lime harvest for the 2023 financial year is seen around 700 metric tonnes, more than double a target of 300 tonnes, said Piet Smit, the CEO of Komati which runs the 60 hectare farm.

"It's quickly become the biggest lime farm in South Africa," he told Reuters at the farm.

The project is not only benefiting the beer giant, but has also employed locals like Pontsho Mathebula, a mother of two who is helping her community become South Africa's biggest lime producer.

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"My life before working at Moletele lime project was very difficult. I know poverty, I've experienced it. (Being) without a job is not easy," the 39-year old told Reuters in her home after a shift at the farm, where she operates the irrigation system.

"Because of that job, my kids will never go to school hungry... They will be able to have a school bag, shoes on their feet," she said.

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