Success Story Ecuador/ SEC Assignment of Hans Ulrich Züger

The “Asociación Agraria Bananera Fincas de El Oro” is an agricultural association of banana producers in Ecuador. They export most of their bananas to the USA and the European market, while the rest is processed into other products. In 2017, the producers were visited for the first time by a SEC expert in brewing. Since then, a total of three consultancy assignments have been conducted by two different experts on-site. These experts have helped to continuously develop a banana beer which can be sold in Ecuador today.

During the first assignment, the master brewer and SEC expert Friedrich Stauffer tried to find out whether it is possible to produce an acceptable beer with bananas at all. Before that, the members of the association had already tried to produce a beer-like drink. Therefore, the main purpose of this assignment was to improve the existing beverage and to offer support during the brewing process and the filling of the bottles. The first assignment was successful, but there was not enough time to take further steps. Hence, the second assignment with the same expert followed a year later and this time focused on filtration, fermentation, and the influence on taste of the beer when malt was added.

Again, there was not enough time to fully refine the banana beer and the bananeros again requested the support of a SEC expert. This time it was the master brewer Hans Ulrich Züger who flew to Ecuador in November 2019. His goal was to finally improve the quality of the banana beer. In the meantime, the association had built a new beer production plant and Mr. Züger started to create and try out recipes. Finally, an improvement in quality was achieved by reducing the acidity of the beer and optimizing the production process.

About the client

The association “Fincas de El Oro” is located in Machala, a town in the southern coastal region of Ecuador. It consists of a total of 37 banana producers with an orchard of 315 hectares. The association focuses on the production and trade of organic and conventional bananas, which are fair trade certified and exported internationally.

The organization exports 12 thousand crates of bananas a week, with the proportion of discarded fruit reaching 10 to 15% of the export volume. These fruits are usually used to produce banana derivatives such as jam or juice or sold as animal feed.

However, the producers came up with the idea of using discarded bananas to produce banana beer. They therefore asked the SEC for an expert who could investigate the technical feasibility of such a beer production. For the future, the producers’ goal is to increase domestic consumption and make their banana beer suitable for international export.

Questions to the expert Hans Ulrich Züger

How do you judge the achieved results in general?
The very sour taste of the banana beer was eliminated. The turbidity could also be reduced. Furthermore, recipes were created and continuously adapted. Also, work is now more systematic and protocols are written to identify possible product defects afterwards.

What impressed you the most during the assignment?
My ideas, such as the conversion of a heatable pan, were implemented quickly and the result, that the banana puree no longer burnt, was happily acknowledged. In general, I was able to get to know beer brewing in a way that was previously unknown to me. I would also like to particularly mention that the association management took me on an excursion every weekend. Therefore, I was able to get to know the local people in a way that would never have been possible as a tourist.

What did not work as expected during your assignment?
The beginning was difficult, the facilities were moved to a new location of the club on the first day. In addition, unfortunately not all of Mr. Stauffer’s recommendations could be implemented, such as cooling the tanks.

Are you confident that the association will be able to sell its banana beer successfully in the future?
Yes I am, because the company now has the necessary equipment to produce banana beer of a quality that will allow it to be sold within the country. However, to export the beer, it will need further investment. But if the product can be sold locally at market prices, such investments will be possible in a short time.