Low banana wine volumes hinder better packaging

Sunday November 19 2017

Wine made from bananas displayed at an exhibition at Ankole Hills, Uganda. PHOTO | RACHEL KIBUI | NMG

Wine made from bananas displayed at an exhibition at Ankole Hills, Uganda. PHOTO | RACHEL KIBUI | NMG 

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Low production volumes are hindering producers of uncertified banana wine and other alcoholic beverages from using glass packaging, which is a key compliance requirement with the standards board.

Wine makers have been using plastic bottles to package their products, but these have since been outlawed.

The Rwanda Standard Board (RSB) recently shut down more than 150 banana wine producers, who did not carry the quality mark. The brewers say their products would be compliant if they were packed in glass containers but the low volumes make bottle packaging expensive.

According to the banana wine and beer producers association known by its French acronym (APROJEBAR), the nearest glass factory is in Kenya and the cost of bottles is too expensive.

“We have visited factories in Kenya, Malawi, Egypt and South Africa, but we could not meet their minimum order requirements,” said Juvenal Ndayisenga, the association’s president.

Production volumes

At current production volumes, each bottle would cost Rwf300 ($0.3) with the price only reducing for an order of more than 100,000.

Another requirement is for factories to have their own branded bottles, which wine makers say increases costs further.

Mr Ndayisenga said the association was in talks with an Egyptian glass manufacturer to see if they could get more favourable terms.

“The Egyptian company’s representatives are expected to visit the country to assess the local market and see if the total annual demand makes business sense for them,” Mr Ndayisenga said.

Rwanda Today has also learnt that wine makers are engaging the private sector federation in a bid to attract investors in glass bottles industry.

Some of basic standards that RSB check for include hygiene standards in the factories, equipment, and access to electricity.

APROJEBAR has 90 members but only two have the quality mark so far.