South Africa Breweries goes solo in promoting responsible drinking, industry stakeholders closely watch them

SOUTH AFRICA – South African Breweries, the country’s largest beer producer has announced that it is seeking to explore new alcohol harm reduction strategies and in turn will be resigning from Aware.org.

Aware.org is a non-profit organization (NPO) aimed to educate the public, organizations, and individuals about issues related to personal safety.

Membership in such organizations is a prerequisite for trading licenses in the liquor industry for manufacturers, resellers, and traders.

Aware.org describes itself as an organization that aims to mitigate alcohol-related harm through research, partner collaboration, stakeholder management, and awareness building.

The organization’s programs and projects are funded by members, including alcohol producers such as Distell, Diageo, DGB and KWV.

Industry estimates indicate that member donations amount to tens of millions of rand each year.

“We’ve made a decision to step aside from Aware.org because we believe we can accelerate things. It’s been an ask … from our stakeholders who say, ‘do more’.”

Zoleka Lisa – Vice-president of corporate affairs at SAB South Africa

SAB has confirmed that it was serving its six months’ notice period as a member of Aware.org, stating, “We have resigned from Aware.org [and it] is subject to a six-month notice period.

“So, we are still members of Aware.org and we will remain members until that notice period finishes,” said Richard Rivett-Carnac, SAB’s vice-president for finance and legal.

He added that the company’s decision was the result of wanting to work on alcohol reduction better, faster and with greater impact. More details of its next steps would be announced in due course, reports Fin 24.

“We’ve made a decision to step aside from Aware.org because we believe we can accelerate things. It’s been an ask … from our stakeholders who say, ‘do more’,” said Zoleka Lisa, vice-president of corporate affairs at SAB South Africa.

Lisa explained that the group has decided to insource the execution of its responsible consumption programmes instead of “relying on a single entity”, to ensure the acceleration of its alcohol-harm-reduction endeavours.

In a written response to Fin24, SAB also said it was heeding government’s call to the company and its social partners to tackle the harmful consumption of alcohol.

“We believe that due to our reach, scale and global experience, we are positioned to accelerate the changes required in the delivery of responsible consumption interventions and we have strengthened our internal capacity to do so,” said SAB.

So far, the beer maker has been driving the responsible drinking agenda through placing guidance labels on all our beer products and increase alcohol health literacy.

In addition, the company has introduced no and low alcohol products in its portfolio and engages in road safety campaigns to reduce fatalities on South African roads. SAB aims to upgrade 10 Alcohol Evidence Centres across South Africa.

Lucky Ntimane, Convenor of the National Liquor Traders (NLT), said Aware.org plays a significant role in addressing issues about alcohol abuse and its associated harm.

He said the SAB’s decision to leave Aware.org was “unfortunate”, but it needed to be understood in the context of SAB’s plans on tackling alcohol harm outside Aware.org.

“And we will hold them to account based on those plans,” he said.

Ntimane added that he was hopeful that given the leadership role that SAB plays in the industry, the company will continue to play its part in society in driving programmes that address the irresponsible consumption of alcohol.

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