Abuja - 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% alcohol content, could change
"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 nice Heineken."
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-flavored 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% over the next ten years. By 2020, analysts at
Plato Logic expect Africa to represent 7% of global beer sales, from around 6%
Hiemstra said Heineken, which has invested
$2.2bn 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
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," Hiemstra said.
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, he
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% of supplies locally
by 2020, from around 50% 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,