Foreign brewers battle for Ethiopia’s beer drinkers

Customer drinks beer at the St. George brewery's public pub in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa

International brewers are helping in the transformation of Ethiopia’s business landscape as it slowly sells the assets of the former communist state and opens up to foreigners drawn to one of Africa’s fastest growing economies. Reuters was there:

Heineken, Diageo and privately-owned Dutch brewer Bavaria, have snapped up state breweries or built new ones in the past four years, introducing new beverages and increasing competition for St George, Ethiopia’s oldest beer brand, that was itself bought by France’s Castel Group in 1998.

The east African nation that once could not feed itself now draws investors keen to profit from the increasing prosperity of its 96 million people.

“We recognize the huge potential in Ethiopia,” Diageo said in a statement e-mailed to Reuters. It bought state-owned Meta Abo brewery for $225 million (152.3 million pounds) in 2012 and has doubled brewing capacity and invested in new brands. It launched Zemen Beer in December and non-alcoholic Malta Guiness in August 2013.

Heineken bought state-owned Bedele and Harar Breweries for a combined $163 million in 2011, introducing the Walia beer, which bar staff in Addis Ababa say is catching up St George. A few years ago, small bars struggled to get hold of crates of St George as they were bought up by hotels or bigger restaurants but Castel has increased brewing capacity, meaning they are now readily available.


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