ZAMBIA – The Zambian Breweries has confirmed that the alcohol beverage sector is currently experiencing a short-term supply constraint caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, which the company is working around the clock to resolve.

According to the leading beer producer in the country, the COVID-19 pandemic led to on-trade outlets being shut down for a period of time, starving both producers and sellers of alcoholic beverages some income.

The situation further disrupted the flow of both raw materials and products along the value chain which has led to the current shortages experienced by the brewer.

With the current state of affairs, the subsidiary of AB InBev has noted with concern the continued over-pricing of its beer by some unscrupulous distributors and traders across several markets in the country who are taking advantage of the situation.

To this end the country’s largest brewer has condemned the act and noted that it does not support such profiteering.

“Whilst we continue to support distributors and all our business partners in the value chain who have equally been impacted by recent bar closures as we emerge from lockdown, we are saddened that some unethical traders are seeking to exploit short-term supply constraints by increasing prices and creating artificial shortages,” said Zambian Breweries Country Director, Jose Moran.

“We can confirm that we have not increased the price of our products, and although we recommend a retail price for consumers, we do not enforce price or control market prices,” he added.

Moran said that the company is aware that the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) is undertaking market investigations and further warned distributors and traders of the possible penalties for infringement of competition law and unfair trading.

“We are working hard to overcome challenges post the COVID-19 lockdown and increase supply to the market as the festive season is coming closer.”

Zambian Breweries Country Director – Jose Moran

To resolve the dire situation which has engulfed the industry, Zambian Breweries has indicated that it is currently working on its planned upgrade capacity, which will be ready early next year.

The COVID-19 lockdown hampered the timely implementation of the project which has resulted in a gap in servicing demand.

The biggest problem the company has also been facing is the loss of returnable bottles in trade and difficulty in obtaining replacements from the glass supplier mostly from South Africa, who were equally impacted by lockdown.

Recyclable bottles are vital to keeping the supply chain going, and since bars have only partially re-opened beer-lovers are leaving empty bottles at home. 

To this end the brewery has introduced the ‘Chinja Botolo’ campaign, where customers can turn empty beer bottles into hard cash to close this gap.

The company also recently ventured into use of digital technology and e-commerce platforms as part of its distribution channels to encourage customers to enjoy their products responsibly at home.

They have partnered with Tigmoo and AfriDelivery to facilitate delivery of the products to the doorsteps of its customers.

“We are working hard to overcome challenges post the COVID-19 lockdown and increase supply to the market as the festive season is coming closer,” Moran stated.

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