Photo: Interflour Vietnam
Equipment now being installed in Ba Ria Vung Tau project, with operations slated to begin in March next year.
Asian flour miller giant Interflour will complete construction of its first malting plant in Vietnam and put it into operation next March to capitalize on the country’s burgeoning middle class and its appetite for beer.
Ms. Nguyen Hoang Ngan, Project Assistant at Intermalt Vietnam - Interflour’s Vietnam subsidiary - told VET that equipment at the plant is to be installed shortly.
She did not provide any investment figures. The new plant is located next to Cai Mep Industrial Zone in southern Ba Ria Vung Tau province, where an Interflour Vietnam flour mill has been for years. “The new plant is also near Cai Mep Port, which will help with material shipments from the parent group,” Ms. Ngan added.
Jointly owned by Australia’s largest wheat exporter, the CBH Group, and Indonesia’s Salim Group, Interflour has nine processing facilities in five countries, including Indonesia, Malaysia, Turkey and Vietnam, processing approximately 1.5 million tons of flour a year.
Vietnam’s demographics and preference for beer is driving Interflour’s malting plans, according to Ms. Ngan. Beer is overwhelmingly the country’s drink of choice. About 97 per cent of all alcohol consumed in the country of 92 million is beer.
With beer consumption more than doubling in the past decade, almost 1 million people becoming of legal drinking age every year, and incomes on the rise, it is clear why the company has made the move.
“Vietnamese love beer and demand is increasing rapidly,” Interflour Group Project Director Mr. Joe Pampano was quoted as saying. “Heineken [which brews locally] can’t keep up its supply of beer.”
Interflour currently has two Vietnamese sites: the recently-purchased mill in the port city of Da Nang and the one at Cai Mep. The Cai Mep flour mill and grain storage facility also has a port, where the new malting plant is being built.
“The port gives us an advantage because we can buy barley in bulk but we also shift grain in containers and bags,” said Mr. Pampano. The barley will not be sourced solely from the CBH Group or Australian growers but from other countries where prices are competitive.
Ms. Ngan added that the company’s strategic target is to provide 100 per cent of demand for malt in Vietnam thanks to the new plant and expand sales in the ASEAN region. “We have advantages in importing barley from many sources worldwide,” she said.
Customers in Vietnam include Heineken, Carlsberg, Sapporo, SABMiller, Habeco and Sabeco and the retailers and wholesalers.
This malting plant will be the first in Southeast Asia, as it is difficult to malt in the tropics. Malting generally needs low temperatures and dry conditions to assist the process.
“Margins on malt will far exceed the margins we get on flour at the moment,” Mr. Pampano said. “Once we are established it will make it harder for our competitors.”