Last week, Malteries Soufflet announced the launch of malt production at its new plant in Ethiopia. The formerly privately owned French company which was sold last month to InVivo Group, a French union of agricultural cooperatives (inside.beer, 6.5.2021), announced in 2018 to build a new malting plant on the outskirts of Ethiopia’s capital Addis-Ababa. (inside.beer, 13.6.2018).
It is Soufflet’s first malthouse in Africa and it is part of its strategy to become a truly international player. Malteries Soufflet now operates 28 malthouses in 15 countries with the majority of them are located in Europe. However, the company also has malthouses in Brazil, Argentina and India.
In 2012, Soufflet took the first step out of Europe when it acquired 60 percent of Malteria do Vale, giving it control of a malt plant in southern Brazil with an annual production capacity of 105,000 tonnes. After South America, Soufflet took the next step in Asia, when it bought the Alwar malthouse located about 150 kilometers south-west of New Delhi, India. The Alwar malthouse was built in 2012 and has an annual capacity of 18,000 metric tons of malt. (inside.beer, 29.10.2016). With commissioning of the new malthouse in Ethiopia, Soufflet is now tapping the African continent.
Ethiopia is the largest producer of barley for food and fodder in Africa and the beer market is expanding by 15% each year. The local supply of malt, however, is not sufficient to meet demand: in 2018, the beer sector imported €50 million worth of malt.
Located on 10 hectares in the suburbs of Addis Ababa, Soufflet Malt Ethiopia benefits from a strategic location, close to the barley crops. Equipped with state-of-the-art infrastructure, the malthouse aims to produce 60,000 tonnes in the first year and hopes to eventually reach a production capacity of 110,000 tonnes per year.
With this establishment, the Soufflet Group is committed to a project to replace imports throughout the value chain: the barley used is grown locally and the malt is sold directly to local brewers. This will significantly reduce imports, which currently represent 70% of the market.
In order to produce locally all the barley for malting within three years, the Group has been supporting the agricultural, technical and commercial development of the regions to the south and west of Addis Ababa for four years. Malteries Soufflet practices this model of development through local channels in each of its establishments around the world.
"40,000 farmers will supply our plant with 80,000 tonnes of barley per year. Our support will improve farm yields and connect farmers to the market, which will have a large-scale impact on local communities," Christophe Passelande, Managing Director of the Soufflet Group.
Malteries Soufflet employs a team of 100 people in Ethiopia. Forty-five people work on the development of the barley sector and thirty-five manage the operation of the plant and silos; 20 are in administrative functions. In addition, the new plant has created more than 200 indirect jobs, especially in rural areas for barley quality control and handling.
Each year since its establishment, and thanks to the strategy of structuring the sector, local collection has increased significantly. For the 2020 - 2021 collection, the Group has collected 70% local barley and aims to quickly collect 100% of its needs from Ethiopian farmers. This year, Malteries Soufflet is the largest producer of certified malting barley seed and the largest collector of barley in Ethiopia.
Construction of the plant started in March 2019 and was completed by the end of April 2021. The COVID-19 health crisis led to disruptions, especially given the large number of people working there (up to 900 in some phases). However, the smooth running of the site was not significantly affected and the factory started the first tests at the beginning of May and is now in continuous production.
The IFC, a subsidiary of the World Bank, is the financial partner in the industrial project. (inside.beer, 31.10.2019). The institution also supports the Group in the development of barley cultivation through the NGO EUCORD.