In 1951, we found a different kind of gold in Papua New Guinea
It was over fifty years after gold was first discovered, but in 1951 a gold rush of a different kind happened in Port Moresby – the quest for liquid gold – beer. While local brews existed, most beers were imported. South Pacific Breweries was founded by a group of local entrepreneurs in pursuit of a beer that would quench the Territorians’ insatiable thirst. And it started paying off almost immediately. On 26th November 1952, SP Brewery sold its first product, SP Lager and by 1960, had grown to absorb competitor, Guinea Brewery.
The lifting of a United Nations ban on alcoholic consumption by nationals in 1962 saw sales and volume quickly grow and four major extensions were made to the Guinea Brewery site in Lae to service the neighbouring Highlands and islands. In 1969, SP Brewery initiated its first corporate social responsibility program, sponsoring the South Pacific Games held in Port Moresby, forging a relationship with sports that continues to this day.
Through the 1970s, the market changed as the Territory United Brewery Ltd (TUBL), formed in Port Moresby by Asahi (and later Swan and San Miguel) introduced four new beers to the country. The thirst for local beer grew substantially through this period as better roads and air travel opened up the country. A fierce price war resulted, with San Miguel eventually absorbed by SPB in 1983, leading to the modernisation of the TUBL Brewery where production was relocated.
During the eighties and nineties, SP Brewery expanded their portfolio, holding the Pepsi/Schweppes franchise, producing and marketing packaged milk and fruit juices and introducing South Pacific Export Lager in June 1982.
In 2000, a decision was made to focus exclusively on what SP has always done best – brewing the region’s best beers. It has since maintained its dominant market share and domestic leadership through product innovations like SP Gold and Johnny Arrow Cider, as well as attaining ISO 9001:2000 accreditation to become the country’s leading manufacturer.
Sixty years on, the gold rush continues for South Pacific Brewery Ltd, with South Pacific Export being awarded three gold medals last year at the prestigious Monde Beer Awards in Europe.
So raise a glass of SP. Here’s to the next sixty years.