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The country with no beer

Manufacturers of Samoa’s iconic beer, Vailima will close operations at the end of the month and that is all the time Samoa Breweries Ltd (SBL) has to produce as much Vailima it can for local consumption.

SBL’s owners Paradise Beverages Limited had announced Vailima’s move to Fiji but this was met with outrage by many Samoans who claimed the beer would lose its identity should it be manufactured elsewhere.

A month later a deal was struck with locals, Charlie Va’ai and Beatrice Ott for Vailima’s production for the local market, while all export demands would be catered by the Fijian production.

The couple are now preparing to set up their operations in Samoa so they can start production soon however the countdown is on to commence before the locally produced Vailima runs out of stock.

SBL is currently producing at maximum capacity to supply Samoa with Vailima for October and November. The first shipment of the temporarily imported Vailima will arrive in December. Vailima draught beer will continue to be available until November 2022.

Pacific TV personality John Pulu enjoying a bottle of Vailima. Picture Vailima
Pacific TV personality John Pulu enjoying a bottle of Vailima. Picture: Vailima

The collection and return of Vailima beer bottles will continue until 2023 to ensure all customers are able to return their empty bottles. It is essential SML receive back as many bottles as possible to keep up with demand up until closure.

“Since the announcement of the closure in June, we have been working hard to look after our people and minimise supply disruption of Vailima,” said Moira Simi, Country Manager of Samoa Breweries.

“The planned closure will impact 34 of our people, down from the initial 50, as we managed to secure roles and retain more staff. The affected employees have been offered generous redundancy packages to thank them and recognize their incredible service over the years.”

SBL will continue to sell and distribute Vailima alongside Samoa’s favourite non-alcoholic beverages while the brewing of Vailima will be done locally by Mr Va’ai and Ms Ott once their operation in Samoa is setup.

SBL is continuing to explore options on how to create a stronger connection between its local partners and the Vailima brand.

“It’s always been our strong preference to keep the production of Vailima in Samoa,” said Mike Spencer, General Manager of Paradise Beverages Limited.

Vailima producers Samoa Breweries will close doors at the end of the month. Picture Vailima
Manufacturers of Samoa’s iconic beer, Vailima will close operations at the end of the month. Picture: Vailima

“We are thrilled the brewing of the iconic Vailima brand would remain in Samoa and be looked after by people who are incredibly passionate about Vailima. We know the brand will be in safe hands and we’re exploring further options to provide an even stronger connection between Mr Va’ai, Ms Ott and the Vailima brand.”

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