JOHANNESBURG May 13 A thirst for beer among
Africa's middle classes is driving the world's biggest brewers
to invest on the continent, but getting women to drink the
beverage is another matter.
One brewer, Heineken, is attempting to woo the
elusive female African drinker with a sweeter, low-alcohol beer
made from malt and lemon that it hopes will persuade them to try
its other lagers.
Siep Hiemstra, head of Heineken's African operations, said
beer consumption on the continent was still predominantly male,
but the new drink, Radler, with a 2-3 percent alcohol content,
could change women's perceptions.
"For female drinkers this is the first step towards the beer
category," Hiemstra told Reuters. "If that is the case it will
probably also allow them to enter the beer category and taste a
The Dutch brewer, which operates in 20 African countries and
competes with SABMiller and Diageo, introduced
Radler in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) last month and
plans to launch it elsewhere in Africa and Western Europe this
summer, Hiemstra said.
Heineken is not alone in trying to tap the market for women
drinkers. Danish brewer Carlsberg, for example, has
the Eve brand of lychee-flavoured lower alcohol beer.
However, some beer makers have struggled to make inroads,
with Molson Coors axing its lower-alcohol, fruity Animee brand
in Britain a little over a year after launch.
The rising spending power of Africa's middle classes has
propelled the expansion of its beer market, which is forecast by
some to grow 50 percent over the next ten years. By 2020,
analysts at Plato Logic expect Africa to represent 7 percent of
global beer sales, from around 6 percent now.
Hiemstra said Heineken, which has invested $2.2 billion in
Africa since 2005, wants to focus on consumers trading up from
home brews, bought by the majority of Africans, rather than
competing with locally made beers.
Commercial brewers sell only one in five litres of beer on
the continent but branded beers are growing in popularity.
"Our mission is to make sure that we are ready for people
when they want to move on from beers made in home breweries,"
Markets such as Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa and Ethiopia,
where Heineken bought two breweries in 2011 and is constructing
a third, have been key drivers of its growth on the continent,
Heineken, which opened its first African brewery in what is
now the DRC in 1923, is also looking to develop new sources of
raw materials in order to meet its target of getting 60 percent
of supplies locally by 2020, from around 50 percent now.
It is in the process of setting up a supply chain to improve
barley production in Ethiopia and is exploring how it can source
cassava from Nigeria, the world's biggest producer of the tuber,
(Editing by Mark Potter)