IF there is one thing that tourists do look forward to when visiting Fiji, it is to have a taste of Fiji Bitter.
From the posh surroundings of hotel bars, nightclubs to cassava patches, Fijians have practised the art of “taki” with the beer, that has become one of the iconic brands of Fiji.
But with Coca-Cola’s multimillion dollar takeover of the Fiji Bitter makers, the Foster’s Group Pacific last week, several announcements were made.
There was the promise of a $27million to upgrade and expand facilities to lift the “quality and capability” for the production of premium export quality beer and spirits.
“We are delighted to acquire these businesses and the fantastic brands of Fiji Bitter and Bounty Rum, which are Fijian icons.
“With the scale and expertise we are able to bring to the business, we strongly believe they have enormous potential to be developed into high-quality export brands with a potential global market,” Terry Davis, CCA’s Group Managing Director said.
“We are not new to Fiji — we have operated a successful non-alcoholic beverages business in Fiji since 1993, and fully understand the great potential of ‘Brand Fiji.’
“Fiji Bitter beer and Bounty Rum will complement our non-alcoholic portfolio, not just in Fiji, but in Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific, and further afield.”
Mr Davis said CCA’s investment would also provide a great platform for the Fijian brewery and distillery employees to grow their skills and that.
There is also the promise for the Fijian customers and consumers, the upgrade would mean products are fresher and of higher quality.
CCA said its acquisition of the Fiji brewery and distillery would complement its alcohol strategy in the Pacific, where the company now has multi-year distribution agreements with international beer brands Group Modelo, Carlsberg and Molson Coors in the Pacific Islands and New Zealand.
“Our alcohol strategy, which includes our 10 year agreement with Beam Inc, one of the world’s most successful and innovative premium spirits companies, is coming together well, and we are also looking forward to developing the spirit and ARTD (alcoholic ready-to-drink) brands in Fiji while waiting for the beer restraint in Australia to expire in about 15 months’ time,” Mr Davis said.
CCA has operated a non-alcoholic beverages business in Fiji since 1993 with a bottling facility in Suva.
CCA employs around 1000 people in Fiji.
CCA entered into an agreement to lend $46 million last month to the Australian Beer Company, part of the Casella group, to be used to assist with the acquisition and expansion of a new brewery in Griffith, NSW.
The loan will convert into a joint venture equity interest in the Australian Beer Company after the expiration of a restraint CCA is under until 16 December 2013 not to sell, distribute or manufacture beer in Australia.
This is when the Fiji products would perhaps hit the Australian shelves.