Redefining South African Agriculture

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2015

Hero

We all know SAB as the company behind some of South Africa’s favourite brews. However, while the company has been forging a 120 year legacy of producing premier, world-class beers, SAB has simultaneously revolutionised our local barley and hops industries. Today, we not only celebrate 12 decades of brewing heritage, but 12 decades of SAB’s commitment to bigger and better local farming.

1

When Frederick Mead acquired Castle Brewery, he went in with a clear vision for his company – the company that would quite soon be renamed South African Breweries. In the early days of Castle Brewery, Charles Glass had had to import his raw materials from England at great cost. Mead did not want the same for SAB. In fact, he wanted to revolutionise the way South African crop farming operated.

2

Mead was already well respected and widely known for his experience in the brewing field, both locally and in England. An innovative man, in 1911 Mead set out on an experiment to encourage the production of barley, specifically for the brewing industry.

Back then, the project worked on the basis that SAB would import high-quality seed, which would then be available to any farmer, free of charge. Farmers who successfully yielded crops were guaranteed that SAB would buy their entire crop, at market price. While the first trial of Mead’s project was underway, the company set about building a malting facility in Pretoria to be used exclusively for the needs of SAB.

3

Less than a year after beginning the barley project, Mead set in motion a programme to kick-start the country’s hop industry. In 1912, a story appeared in the Sunday Times, enticingly headlined ‘£100 for a Pocket of Hops’. The article explained that SAB was offering a prize of £100 to the first farmer to produce a pocket of hops ‘weighing 1 cwts’ (equivalent to just under 51kg). Participating farmers were instructed to deliver their pocket to one of SAB’s 7 breweries. Needless to say, the programme was a success. Plots of land were laid out and the South African hops industry was created.

4

In 2014, SAB launched Better Barley Better Beer (BBBB). While Mead worked tirelessly to create the booming barley industry our nation now enjoys, BBBB focuses on encouraging and supporting sustainable farming practices with the future in mind. Although still in its infancy, the programme already involves 26 barley producers from around the country who, through BBBB, learn invaluable skills about sustainable farming practices such as water reduction, soil health, and the restoration of their farming ecosystems.

5

Although SAB has grown substantially over the past 120 years, a commitment to local agriculture has remained at the heart of the company’s work and ethos. SAB continues to push for better, more sustainable agriculture – a passion evident in every sip of any one of South Africa’s best loved local brews.

#SAB120

HeroWe all know SAB as the company behind some of South Africa’s favourite brews. However, while the company has been forging a 120 year legacy of producing premier, world-class beers, SAB has simultaneously revolutionised our local barley and hops industries. Today, we not only celebrate 12 decades of brewing heritage, but 12 decades of SAB’s commitment to bigger and better local farming.1

When Frederick Mead acquired Castle Brewery, he went in with a clear vision for his company – the company that would quite soon be renamed South African Breweries. In the early days of Castle Brewery, Charles Glass had had to import his raw materials from England at great cost. Mead did not want the same for SAB. In fact, he wanted to revolutionise the way South African crop farming operated.

2

Mead was already well respected and widely known for his experience in the brewing field, both locally and in England. An innovative man, in 1911 Mead set out on an experiment to encourage the production of barley, specifically for the brewing industry.

Back then, the project worked on the basis that SAB would import high-quality seed, which would then be available to any farmer, free of charge. Farmers who successfully yielded crops were guaranteed that SAB would buy their entire crop, at market price. While the first trial of Mead’s project was underway, the company set about building a malting facility in Pretoria to be used exclusively for the needs of SAB.

3

Less than a year after beginning the barley project, Mead set in motion a programme to kick-start the country’s hop industry. In 1912, a story appeared in the Sunday Times, enticingly headlined ‘£100 for a Pocket of Hops’. The article explained that SAB was offering a prize of £100 to the first farmer to produce a pocket of hops ‘weighing 1 cwts’ (equivalent to just under 51kg). Participating farmers were instructed to deliver their pocket to one of SAB’s 7 breweries. Needless to say, the programme was a success. Plots of land were laid out and the South African hops industry was created.

4

In 2014, SAB launched Better Barley Better Beer (BBBB). While Mead worked tirelessly to create the booming barley industry our nation now enjoys, BBBB focuses on encouraging and supporting sustainable farming practices with the future in mind.

Although still in its infancy, the programme already involves 26 barley producers from around the country who, through BBBB, learn invaluable skills about sustainable farming practices such as water reduction, soil health, and the restoration of their farming ecosystems.

5

Although SAB has grown substantially over the past 120 years, a commitment to local agriculture has remained at the heart of the company’s work and ethos. SAB continues to push for better, more sustainable agriculture – a passion evident in every sip of any one of South Africa’s best loved local brews.

#SAB120

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