Vailima beer is an icon of Samoa and a brew that locals are proud to parade as Samoan made.
But this will no longer be the case as Samoa Breweries Limited (SBL) has made the decision to move production from Samoa to Fiji. This is a decision that has led to the loss of 50 jobs in Apia.
The local operations of SBL will now be limited to sales and distribution.
Much of this has to do with the commercial viability and continuation of the Vailima brand.
The brewing of Vailima beer will move to the Paradise Beverages facilities in Fiji.
Paradise Beverages Limited (the majority owner of SBL) General Manager Mike Spencer said it had not taken this decision lightly.
Samoa Breweries’ commercial viability steadily declined over the past five years due to a combination of factors including aging machinery, the impact of the measles outbreak in 2019, followed by the disruption caused by COVID-19.
“We have explored every avenue to continue brewing in Samoa, including further investment into our aging brewery, working with a third party to develop a new brewery, and working with a third party to brew our brands. Unfortunately, none of the options were commercially viable,” said Mr Spencer.
Country Manager Moira Simi confirmed the Vailima brand and heritage will continue to live on despite the move.
“The brewing of Vailima will stay in the Pacific moving to our state-of-the-art Paradise Beverages facilities in Fiji, where we will continue to use the same traditional methods and ingredients,” he said.
“The Vailima brand is loved both in Samoa and overseas and we want to continue that legacy, so it can be enjoyed into the future.”
“We want to thank our people for their continuous efforts to improve the business, especially after such a tough few years. We know what the brewery represents in Samoa, and its role and history here is something we’re proud of.”
SBL will continue to help the staff who have been affected by the move to Fiji. There would be a few new roles with the sales and distribution aspect of operation still in Samoa, and there will be redundancy packages as well.
There is no guarantee that the price of the beer will remain the same in Samoa after the move, as freight will play an important role.
Paradise Beverages is owned by Coca-Cola Amatil Fiji.