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Venezuela’s Largest Food Producer May Halt over Beer Production

By: Sabrina Martín - @SabrinaMartinR - Apr 25, 2016, 10:38 am
Polar venezuela
A Polar press release said the company does not have enough ingredients to continue beer production. (La Guarimba)

EspañolDue to the growing shortage of ingredients, Cervecería Polar, Venezuela’s largest brewery, announced that it will suspend its production of beer and other malt beverages.

Through a press release, the company detailed their situation as one in which they are unable to restock inventory, as their last shipment of important ingredients will only reach them on April 29.

Though Polar produces much of the country’s beer, it needs to important basic materials for brewing. Because the Venezuelan government did not authorize them to pay foreign suppliers, they cannot produce the beer.

The press release explained that in order to produce beer, it needs barley and hops, crops that canot be grown in Venezuela’s climate.

A source at the brewery, who preferred to remain anonymous, said he hopes Polar does not halt production entireley, and that the brewer of Regional — a different brand — would loan them the ingredients.

He also said that in the case that the government approves international financial transaction, the ingredients still won’t arrive for four weeks. He added that the brewery hasn’t received any money since August 2015.

The source expressed his worry that Polar, which also produces food, sauces and spreads, would lose billions of dollars and may be forced to shut down entirely.

“To drown Polar, you have to drown the whole company,” he said, but added that closing the brewery section would create job instability to hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans.

The company is run by Lorenzo Mendoza, who reminded that Venezuelan government last February that the country was reaching critical levels of raw materials for producing beverages.

The press release also insinuated that the Venezuelan government discriminated against Polar in some way, as competing companies had access to foreign currency.

Polar calculated that the halt of production would impact 10,000 workers directly, and more than 300,000 employees working in franchising, transportation, customer service and supplies.

Maduro Targets Polar Venezuela

Polar is the largest industrial Venezuelan corporation in the country, with more than 70 years of operation. It produces alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, snacks, sauces, spreads, ice cream and detergents for Venezuela, with an annual revenue of US$3 billion.

Former President Hugo Chávez Frías said the company was a tempting one to expropriate, and often insulted, threatened and attacked it and its owner Lorenzo Mendoza.

Nicolás Maduro continues to follow in the footsteps of the forme president by accusing Polar of starting an “economic war.”

En 2015, Polar launched a hashag #PlanGarra on Twitter, which was also the name of plan for producing as much food as possible while also protecting their jobs. It was also a response to the government’s alleged plans to expropriate the company.

Sabrina Martín Sabrina Martín

Sabrina Martín is a Venezuelan journalist, commentator, and editor based in Valencia with experience in corporate communication. Follow @SabrinaMartinR.