Kenya. EA ripe for new investments in beer market, says report

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At about 9.2 litres per person, beer consumption in Kenya is still some way off the global average of 35 litres per person.

The low levels of beer consumption in eastern Africa makes the market a prime investment destination, a newly-released industry report has said. According to the report by investment banker Imara, the average beer consumer in these markets takes less than their counterparts in western and southern Africa.

The report titled “SSA Breweries Sector Report: December 2012 Valuations now Looking a Little Frothy” covers the main brewers in Kenya (EABL), Tanzania (TBL), Rwanda (Bralirwa), Madagascar and Mauritius (Phoenix).

“At about 9.2 litres per person, beer consumption in Kenya is still some way off the global average of 35 litres per person and there is still room for growth Kenya’s emerging market credentials are driving demand for low calorie beers and the premium segment is showing strong growth,” it says.
Similarly, low consumption levels prevail in Tanzania, whose consumption is at 9.31 litres per person and Rwanda. “Per Capita Consumption (PCC) levels at 11.9 litres per person are low and on the back of continued sustained growth in growth domestic product will grow gradually,” says the report on Rwanda.

The report, however, says there is a huge room for expansion as some of the economies grow, especially fuelled by new mineral wealth, thereby expanding the middle class.

“Continued economic growth is increasing disposable incomes and consumption levels are rising from a low base,” it says.

The levels of beer consumption are in particular amongst the lowest in the region.

Consumption in South Africa is the largest on the continent at 59.5 litres per person followed by the West Africa market where the combined average rate of consumption for Ghana, Nigeria and the Ivory Coast is 10.61 litres per person.

Analysts say factors such as religion, drinking times and how much disposable income the average East African has can explain the lower consumption when compared with Africans from other regions.

“A lot of this has to do with the population mix and the spending power,” said Eric Musau, a research analyst at Standard Investment Bank.

At 45 million, Tanzania has a bigger population than Kenya’s 40 million but a larger Muslim population which can partly contribute to lower alcohol consumption.

‘‘The stringent laws on the distribution and the sale of alcoholic beverages in markets such as Kenya are amongst factors that check amounts of beer consumed locally,’’ added Mr Musau. The report, however, says the oil will be the game changer for higher beer consumption.

The region’s recent discoveries of oil in Uganda, Madagascar, natural gas in Tanzania and bright prospects of oil in Kenya and Rwanda will expand the consumer base and the average East Africans consumption.

Uganda and Tanzania have vast amounts of oil and gas while Kenya’s prospects are seen as very bright following striking of oil in two sites. The region is yet to be fully explored.

“This new dynamic adds on to the real growth being experienced by East Africa’s economies,” says the report.

All the economies have grown steadily despite setbacks in Kenya over the last 10 years.