The company has already taken a massive knock as the sale of alcohol is prohibited under the Disaster Regulations governing the national lockdown.
According to SAB head of communications Refilwe Masemola, their local storage facilities were close to capacity with bottled stock.
Because the production process took several weeks, the current dop, which was nearing the end of the fermentation process, may have to be dumped if SAB is not allowed to move the already bottled and packaged stock to storage depots to clear space.
If this does not happen soon, Masemola said the company would be unable to store the newly finished batches of beer and this means SAB will need to dump 130 million litres which equates to 400 million bottles.
At the start of the national lockdown to curb the spread of Covid-19, SAB had a number of batches of beer in various stages of fermentation and the movement of the batches to the different tanks was interrupted by the lockdown.
This had placed some of the company’s products at risk, said Masemola.
It says the government stands to lose up to R2 billion in excise tax, while SAB may have to shed 2000 jobs.
“If SAB has to discard its current inventory, the company would be forced to operate at about 50% capacity for four months.
“This would mean the loss of about 2000 jobs - half of SAB’s frontline workforce.
“Another 75 000 jobs would be negatively impacted through the company’s domestic supply chain.”
Disposing of the beer will also be a massive challenge and cause serious environmental risk.
The brewer has this week been publicly calling on government’s national command council to consider its request to sell under lockdown.
The brewer says a loss of R285 billion in revenues would be larger than the R229.7bn budget allocated for SA’s health sector for 2020.
Speaking to Independent Media yesterday, Hellen Ndlovu, SAB’s Director of Regulatory and Public Policy, said they are in talks and they hope the talks will yield positive results.
“We had submitted our proposal to the National Command Council, for alcohol to be sold under Lockdown Level 4, with conditions.
“We are engaging them quite extensively on the matter, and we do hope that we will reach a common ground on the matter, sooner rather than later.
“We know from experience that any regulatory measures that interfere with the normal trade of the alcohol market will result in a growth in the illicit trade so we were very apprehensive from the outset when a ban was announced.
“Also, South Africa has a fully functional illicit alcohol market which is ready to capitalise on any ban implemented,” Ndlovu said.
SAB says it has not done any new brewing since 23 March, nor have they sold, or transported for sale, any beer to anywhere in South Africa since 26 March in accordance with lockdown regulations.