Daily Maverick (Johannesburg)

2 November 2011

Mozambique: SABMiller Launches 'Entry-Level' Cassava Beer

analysis

SABMiller is hoping to attract aspirant consumers, with its new cassava beer, Impala Cervejas.

It's brewed in Mozambique, and currently available only in the north of that country, but will potentially be rolled out elsewhere on the continent if it proves a success.

SABMiller on Tuesday launched the first cassava-based beer in Africa.

(Well, it's the first commercially-produced such beer; Africans have been using the plant to make home brew for generations). The launch took place in Johannesburg, although the beer will initially be marketed in northern Mozambique, where it is produced by SABMiller subsidiary, Cervejas de Mocambique.

Although cassava is a staple food in some regions of Africa, SABMiller has said that its new project will not lead to food shortages. After all, Mozambique produces more cassava than it requires for domestic consumption.

The new beer is called Impala Cervejas, and according to BBC journalist Milton Nkosi, tastes "somewhat bitter, somewhat tangy, not sweet".

Bringing Impala to market was somewhat delayed, after SABMiller's original project was moved from Angola to Mozambique and, in addition, it faced several supply and harvesting hurdles.

But now that Impala has finally launched, SABMiller is excited about its prospects, particularly since the beer will sell for only 75% of the price of other local commercial beers. "What we're trying to do is at a 75% price point, to attract consumers up from the illicit spirits or the home brews that they would tend to be consuming," said Mark Bowman, the managing director for SABMiller Africa. "They're poor consumers generally. This is a rurally oriented product. We want people to gravitate into what is highly aspirational for them, but to some extent unaffordable, with an entry-level beer."

That means you can get an 550ml Impala Cervejas in Mozambique for 25 meticals (R7.50).

We'll drink to that.

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