World’s largest beer maker beefs up spending in Africa

The world’s largest beer maker, Anheuser-Busch InBev NV (AB InBev) is working on boosting its investment in Africa after recording an increase in the demand for its beer on the continent. This comes after the company took over SABMiller in 2016 for $106 billion.

According to the regional Chief Executive Officer, Ricardo Tadeu, shipments in Africa excluding South Africa increased by as 20 percent in 2017. This puts Africa among the fastest-growing territories for the world’s biggest brewer. He also said that premium brands like Stella Artois and Corona are growing in popularity in South Africa.

Bloomberg reported that AB InBev cited Africa as a major factor in the decision to buy SABMiller, which has its roots selling beer to miners in 19th century Johannesburg. Last year, Jorge Paulo Lemann, one of AB InBev’s billionaire shareholders, said that the continent’s rapid urbanization and warm climate could eventually see it overtake the U.S. in beer sales. Since the SABMiller deal pulled through, rival companies such as Heineken NV has hired hundreds of sales staff and invested in growing markets such as Ivory Coast, Mozambique, and Rwanda.

Tadeu further revealed that AB InBev is currently building a brewery in Nigeria that will start production by mid-2018. However, there are no plans to add more as the company is able to grow on the back of existing operations, Tadeu said.

He said that the company will start distributing its flagship Budweiser brand in South Africa this year. It will also introduce an alcohol-free version of SABMiller’s Castle brand. Castle Lite, South Africa’s biggest selling lager, remains popular. The overall fourth-quarter revenue for the company grew by 8.2 percent, beating the average estimate of 5.3 percent growth.

In Africa, SABMiller produces over 200 beers, and it has over 70,000 employees across 80 countries.