Brewing a better future: Heineken highlights benefits of local sourcing

Dutch brewing company Heineken has stepped up its commitment to source the majority of its agricultural raw materials from Africa in a bid to boost crop yield and cash income for smallholder farms across the continent.

The company, which has already spoken out about adopting a circular economy business model, took part in a Twitter Q&A yesterday (27 August) to explore and discuss exactly what ‘local sourcing’ means, and update stakeholders on its Supplier Code. (Scroll down for full Twitter Q&A).

Heineken’s director of global sustainable development Michael Dickstein, local sourcing director Paul Stranger, and global category director for raw materials Edwin Zuidema also answered questions on the impact of the group’s operations in #Africa and other developing regions, as well as revealing what they believe to be the most innovative sustainability initiative that sets the group apart from other brewers.

Commercial benefits

When asked by the Q&A’s organiser, Triple Pundit, why local sourcing has become so important, Heineken’s Stranger responded: “70% of Africans rely on agriculture for livelihood but most of them are caught in the subsistence trap.

“It provides farmers with food security and higher incomes and Heineken with sustainable commercial benefits – benefits like a sustainable source of raw materials, reduced exposure to volatile prices, reduced transport costs and lower CO2.”

Heineken currently sources around 46% of its agri-raw materials from Africa, with the rest coming from the EU, South America and Asia. The ambition is to increase this to 60% by 2020.

Speaking of the benefits that this has on the local economies, Stranger added: “Average income per farmer is up by 324%, average production is up 62% and local sourcing of rice is now 79%. By purchasing approximately 40,000 tonnes of local rice, $26m was redirected into the local economy, which generated income for more than 58,000 farmer families.”

Twitter Q&A with Heineken

In its latest sustainability report, Heineken revealed that it had beaten its water reduction target, achieving a consumption level of 4.2 hectolitres (hl) of water per hl of product. However, the company did not achieve its energy consumption target due to the acquisition of new businesses.

Luke Nicholls

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