Homebrew beer most popular in Africa

Statistics seldom do justice to Africa. Take beer consumption. The average African sips a mere 8 litres of commercially produced beer a year. That’s not a lot. But Africans chug admirable quantities of homebrew. That market is four times bigger than the formal market, measured by volume.

8 litres of commercially produced beer a year. Compared with the 70 litres or so quaffed by the average American, it sounds like Africans are bunch of party-poopers. But that is definitely not the case. Africans make their own beers, made from sorghum, millet or more or less anything fermentable.

Brewers are betting that Africa’s fast-growing middle class will want to trade up. Homebrew can be excellent, but it is highly variable, sometimes lumpy and lacks a certain cachet. SABMiller, a London-listed brewer which operates in 37 African countries, is trying to woo homebrew-lovers with sorghum and cassava beers that are consistently good. They are slightly sweeter and fuller-bodied than a mainstream lager, and cost a third less (though still far more than untaxed homebrew).

Other global brewers are keen to expand in Africa too, as they seek growth markets to compensate for flat or falling beer sales in the rich world. Heineken, already the biggest brewer in Nigeria, is one of them. So far profit margins do not match those on offer in the rich world. But things should improve as incomes rise.

Read the complet article on The Economist

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