Many of the beer brands sold in Africa are made from imported raw materials. With prices inflated by import costs and government tariffs, such brands can be expensive and out of reach for a large percentage of African consumers.
Recognising an opportunity, SABMiller is looking to develop affordable products brewed from local African crops. The sorghum-based Eagle brand – previously launched in Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Tanzania and Swaziland – is now available in some markets in smaller bottles and draught form to make it easier on the pocket. In addition, the business is carrying out trials to see what other locally available raw materials might be used in the brewing process for both new and existing brands.
Affordable products will enable consumers to move from unregulated home brews to commercial beers produced to international brewing standards. As the sector becomes more formal and regulated, governments will benefit from higher excise payments. Importantly, the strategy will provide economic opportunities for local producers of sorghum, barley, maize and cassava and so benefit the community. Some 12,000 local farmers already supply raw materials for SABMiller’s affordable beers in Africa and this number is expected to reach 44,000 by 2012.
The quest for affordability also extends to the premium end of SABMiller’s African portfolio. Given that many mainstream consumers would like to buy a premium beer more often but find imported international brands beyond their means, the business is introducing local premium brands to meet the need. Recent launches include Ndovu in Tanzania, Maluti in Lesotho and, in December 2008, a premium variant of the highly regarded Laurentina in Mozambique. These moves are another step in SABMiller’s African strategy to ensure not just good distribution and wide availability, but an ever greater degree of choice at both ends of the brand portfolio.