ZAMBIA – Zambian Breweries has indicated that it has resumed its 2020 upgrade works which will be finalized by early next year.

According to the company, the planned projects worth US$18m were scheduled to be complete before the end of the year but was met with setbacks arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The subsidiary of AB InBev has highlighted that the investment will increase its production capacity by 30%, meeting the current supply shortage of beer that has been witnessed in the market leading to price volatility.

“In the eyes of everybody, it seems that Zambian Breweries is the one creating the artificial shortage of beer and increases in price, but that is not true.”

Zambian Breweries Country Director – Jose Moran

Zambian Breweries has acknowledged that 2020 has not been a good year of business because of pandemic and the imposed restrictions that disrupted its operations.

However, now that the markets are open across the region and restrictions have eased, capital projects are on course, and the breweries are looking forward to increasing capacity to meet the growing market demand in the short term, indicated Zambian Breweries.

Engaging the Bars and Nightclub Owners Association of Zambia, the company’s Country Director Jose Moran stated, “Zambian Breweries is doing its best, but we need everyone’s support in controlling and addressing this situation; the problem of beer shortages and prices on the market.”

“In the eyes of everybody, it seems that Zambian Breweries is the one creating the artificial shortage of beer and increases in price, but that is not true,” he stated.

Mr Moran revealed that the brewery has maintained its production capacity, but he explained, “We have the same capacity we had one year ago, but the demand has grown organically. We are struggling to catch up, although we are currently working to maximise our efficiencies and resources trying to go beyond our normal capacity.”

He brought to the light following cases of over-pricing of its beer by some unscrupulous distributors and traders across several markets in the country who are taking advantage of the situation.

“We are already in contact with the Zambia Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC), our official distributors and the Bars and Nightclub Owners Association of Zambia to see how we can best manage the situation quickly,” Moran stated.

Zambian Breweries has engaged directly with distributors in the market, urging them to avoid conduct which could be illegal or unethical and to put the interests of the consumer and the sustainability of their businesses at the heart of the operations.

The Company also appreciates the cardinal role of the market regulator in enforcing the laws which are intended to protect consumer welfare.

Responding to the brewery’s address, Bars and Nightclub Owners Association of Zambia President Peter Mwale said, “We have seen for ourselves that you are producing and operating almost at normal capacity despite the scarcity or lack of empties, but production is going on.”

“Despite the brewery maintaining its order prices for crates and cases, some traders have decided to hike prices beyond the recommended prices set by the brewery, disadvantaging consumers.”

The Association seeks to engage government to review the COVID-19 restrictions on bars and nightclubs.

Currently bars and nightclubs can only operate on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. This has also disrupted the distribution time and process leading to deficiencies.

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