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Brewer increases the size of its bottles

National Breweries staff prepare new 1.25 litre bottles of Chibuku ready for launch.

LUSAKA, ZAMBIA – National Breweries is stepping up its drive to satisfy demand from price-conscious consumers by increasing the size of its Chibuku beer bottles to make them more affordable to friends who want to share a drink. The company – which produces and distributes traditional African beer under its market-leading Chibuku Shake Shake and Chibuku Super brand names – has this week increased the size of its Chibuku Super plastic bottles from 1 litre to 1.25 litres to meet demand from social drinkers. The large bottles retail for around K6. And the company has emphasised that its strict quality control and hygiene standards make the household name beer a safe choice for responsible drinkers.

The latest move is the culmination of two-and-a-half years’ of work to bring the company’s US$30 million Chibuku plant in Lusaka up to speed since it was commissioned in April 2016.
The plant enables more efficient production of the opaque beer, the main ingredient of which is maize bought from local farmers. “If you think about what we have invested in this business; it has transformed the way we do business; the way we brew; our efficiencies in the plant. It has taken people into different places; uncomfortable places, that they thought we wouldn’t get to. We are very excited about the new pack – a 1.25 litre pack. It’s there to drive affordability, so the price per litre is lower than what we had in the market before. It encourages people to come together and share the bonds of friendship,” said National Breweries managing director Ronny Palale, speaking during a media tour of the plant this week. “Quality is everything. We have a state-of-the art plant that is heavily automated, and to get consistency all the time is a difficult thing if you depend so much on manual interventions. In the marketplace consumers are quite complicated and they will pick up any small change of quality; so quality is very important.”

New 1.25 litre bottles of Chibuku rolling off the production line.

National Breweries, which is listed on the Lusaka Stock Exchange, is part of Delta Corporation of Zimbabwe, which bought 70 percent of its shares from AB InBev in December 2017. The popularity of Chibuku has grown from its initial market in Zambia to include Zimbabwe, Malawi, Botswana and Tanzania, and while it often the first choice of consumers on a tight budget, though there are now signs that the emerging middle class are choosing it, because of the taste. Chibuku is brewed, packaged and distributed under strict controls, ensuring hygiene, longer shelf life and regulated alcohol content, explained Mr Palale.