Thursday, May 17, 2018

YOUR BUSINESS IS OUR BUSINESS: Tanzania beer industry: SBL showing the way…


By Karl Lyimo

On May 3, 2018, this august newspaper published my article on breweries, to which I received a virtual cascade of responses.

Titled ‘So, Tanzania’s home to five Breweries …!’ the article named them as Tanzania Breweries; Serengeti Breweries; Qingdao-Sino Tanzanian Breweries; U’R Industries, and Crafty Dee’s Brewery.

The first two are well-known by alcohol imbibers and non-imbibers alike for their beverages and relatively-hefty contributions to Tanzania’s economy in terms of tax and other revenues, as well as to local communities under their corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs.

The other three brew what’s known as ‘craft beer’ – defined as ‘beer made in a traditional or non-mechanized way by small breweries.’

I’m not certain what role they play in socio-economic development for ordinary Tanzanians.

Look at it this way: how many readers have heard – or, better still, are regular consumers – of (say) ‘King Oryx Lager,’ ‘King Oryx Dark Lager’ (Qingdao Brewery), or ‘Twiga Ale,’ ‘Twiga Stout’ (U’R Industries)? Well…?

Anyway, beverages have for aeons been a major source of tax revenues for Tanzania. As we approach Budget Day for FY-2018/19 (June 14), this needs revisiting – if only to save the government from debilitating dependence on brewers for revenues, instead of broadening the tax base!

It’s no secret that players in the beverages industry have for years lobbied against wantonly increasing taxes – especially for companies that go the extra mile to locally-source the ingredients needed for the job.

For instance, take into account the degree to which Serengeti Breweries – the ‘New Kid on the Breweries Block’ – has gone in leveraging on local raw materials to brew products which are steadily gaining ground consumption-wise… How their use of local materials – and how subsequent reduction of taxes on local products – have contributed to the reduction of SBL products prices, as can be testified to by consumers of ‘Serengeti Premium Lite’ and ‘Kibo Gold’…

Then move on to how SBL supports other stakeholders and well-wishers of Tanzania’s development – including smallholders – to produce brewing materials for it.

Oh, I don’t know…

But, as SBL’s Corporate Relations Director, John Wanyancha, has said, “SBL has a policy commitment towards the wellbeing of the community, with ‘Water of Life’ one of four priority areas that the company has defined in its objective to provide social support to the community...”

The SBL Director described other priorities as “the provision of ‘Life Skills, Environmental Sustainability, and the Promotion of Responsible Drinking.’”

Revealing that “SBL has an agricultural programme which in the last three years assisted over 300 farmers by providing them with technical and financial assistance – thus helping them to improve their lives and those of their communities” – Mr Wanyancha stated that “SBL’s gone from sourcing Zero-to-15,000 tonnes of locally-grown raw materials from these farmers – equivalent to 80 per cent of all raw materials the company uses in beer production annually.” [See ‘Daily News,’ March 22 and April 1, 2018].

Today, SBL exports ‘Allsopps’ beer brand to Kenya, Wanyancha says – adding that “… penetrating the Kenyan market is testimony that our quality products aren’t only appreciated by local consumers, but are also recognized in the larger regional market…”

Truer words were never said before… Cheers!