Enabling the Use of Local Crops in Africa

Enabling the Use of Local Crops in Africa

Home brewed beer produced from local raw materials such as sorghum and cassava has been known for many years in Africa and beyond. This beer represents a cheaper alternative to imported beer produced from barley malt, but it has poor quality and a short shelf life. Furthermore, food safety is often an issue and there are incidents where people get sick or die as a result of drinking home-made liquor. When cassava is not processed properly it can still contain hydrogen cyanide which can kill a human being easily, even in very small portions.

Commercial production of beer from sorghum or other local raw materials has been a challenge, because the low enzyme content makes it difficult to achieve a satisfying result in terms of yield, quality, and consistency of quality.

The DuPont Industrial Biosciences (IB) and Nutrition & Health (N&H) businesses have together developed an enzyme solution Alphalase® Sorghum, enabling commercial production of clear lager beer from unmalted sorghum. An added benefit is that the energy- and water-intensive malting process is unnecessary. The solution can be used for both 100% sorghum mashes and in combination with other raw materials when combined with other DuPont brewing enzymes. Sorghum is one of the most important crops for the world’s poorest and food-insecure people. The crop can grow in hot and dry conditions where it is difficult to grow other food grains such as barley. Sorghum is particular important in Africa, where it is the second most important cereal in terms of tonnage. It is particular adapted to Africa’s climate, being both drought resistant and able to withstand periods with water logging.

The solution addresses all three dimensions of sustainability:

  • The social dimension is addressed as local agriculture and commercial brewing is supported, providing local jobs. Furthermore, it allows for commercial brewing of high quality beer that competes with home brewing.
  • From an environmental point of view, there is also an improvement: it makes use of local crops adapted to Africa’s climate, typically grown with no or little use of fertilizers and irrigation. From a processing perspective, the solution helps increase capacity while reducing the use of energy, water and raw materials.
  • Finally the solution represents a more affordable alternative to beer produced from barley malt.

Alphalase® Sorghum secures high brewing efficiency and quality, producing clear sorghum beer at affordable prices. The sales amounted to 1,7 MM USD in 2014. During the first seven months of 2015 the sales represent 1,8 MM USD. Assuming sales for the remaining five months of 2015 are the same as the previous year, we will see an increase of 80% for the year. The market potential is significant and double-digit growth in sales is expected in the coming years. Additionally, Alphalase®Sorghum supports local farmers by using sorghum as crop. Finally, the estimated carbon footprint reduction is at least between 10% and 20% in a cradle-to-gate perspective.