The brewhouse is part of owner Coca-Cola Amatil’s three year, FJD 44 million capital investment program and was officially opened by Fijian Prime Minister, Rear Admiral Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama, and CCA group MD, Alison Watkins.
Watkins said the opening was a significant milestone marking its commitment to the Pacific region.
“In December 2012 after we purchased the Paradise Beverages business, we announced a three year program to invest FJD 44 million to modernise our facilities, improve the capability of local teams, and provide better working conditions for our staff,” Watkins said.
“Roughly half the total investment has been spent here at the Suva Brewery. The new brewhouse is fully automated and the latest state of the art technology means will optimise the quality and consistency of our beers. As a significant local employer, we place great importance on supporting the region as well as providing our customers with the highest quality beverages.
“I’m proud to say that from the start, we have worked with local tradespeople and supported Fijian businesses wherever possible and we hope that new skills developed within the local workforce will provide further long lasting benefits for the region,” Watkins said.
CCA purchased the business from SABMiller in 2012, following the latter’s takeover of Australia’s Foster’s Group Ltd (FGL), parent company of Foster’s Group Pacific.
It was renamed Paradise Beverages (Fiji) as part of CCA’s alcohol beverages strategy for the Pacific region and Australia. The purchase means CCA is now one of Fiji’s biggest tax payers (contributing FJD 66.1 million in 2014).
Among the region’s largest employers, Paradise Beverages employed around 300 staff across Fiji and Samoa. One its four sites, the Suva Brewery employs 119 people and produces Fiji Bitter, Fiji Gold (Fiji’s number one selling beer), Vonu Pure Lager, and Fiji Premium, as well as a range of Ready To Drink (RTD) products including Bounty Rum and Cola, and the Tribe range.
Other facilities include its Samoan Brewery, Lautoka Distillery, and the Lautoka Distribution Warehouse.
A review of the all four facilities in 2012 identified a number of requirements for significant investment. Built as part of the original brewery 58 years ago, the redevelopment of the Suva Brewery brewhouse is part of an extensive modernisation process.
In November 2014, CCA announced the closure of its Paradise Beverages’ Lautoka Brewery and its conversion into a distribution warehouse, with production transferred to Suva.
The two facilities employ 192 staff and this number is not expected to change, despite the implementation of the new automated system, with employees instead redeployed from brewing into packaging.
Planning for Project Bula Vou (which is Fijian for New Life) commenced back in April 2013, with work starting in mid 2014. The first brew was completed earlier this month and a commissioning phase will see full production transferred to the new brewhouse over the next two months.
The project is expected to be completed on schedule in August 2015 and involves the replacement of the entire brewing facilities within the Suva Brewery. The new installation has been completely entirely in parallel with the old equipment and within the current site footprint, meaning production has been unaffected throughout.
The brewery currently produces around two million cases of beer each year for local consumption, with capability for 500,000 cases for export. The new facilities will effectively set up a doubling of capacity. Production of an extra two million cases for export is possible with the cost efficient addition of extra tanks.