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BusinessEthiopians to get a taste of Guinness

Ethiopians to get a taste of Guinness

By Samuel Getachew

Diageo, the largest liquor company in the world, is set to reintroduce Guinness, the world’s famous stout beer, to the Ethiopian beer market.

BGI brewery attempted but failed to make an impression with Guinness in Ethiopia, a decade-and-a-half ago. With an alcoholic level of 7.5 percent, despite repeated efforts, it was doomed from the start for BGI. However, Diageo, the United Kingdom based company, feels Guinness needs an encore performance in the Ethiopian beer market, now dominated by international players with deep pocket.

The Ethiopian beer drinking market has increased over the years and now stands at eight liters of beer, per person, a jump from five liters of beer, per person, five years ago. The attractive Ethiopian market currently accommodates a total production of more than 12 million hectoliters of beer a year.

This is the third brand Diageo has introduced in the last five years. It introduced a similar but non-alcoholic Guinness beer, Malta, in 2013 as Ethiopia became its 50th market in Africa, where the Malta brand is sold. However, its introduction of a brand, Zemen, failed to attract customers and folded productions shortly after.

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Diageo is targeting the affluent and emerging middle class and the diplomatic corps with limited production of the world’s famous stout beer at higher price than the average, The Reporter has learnt. The company has been studying the Ethiopian market for a while, especially why the initial trial by its competitor failed, via a project it named “The Injera Project”.  The bitter international taste has been reduced to accommodate the taste of the Ethiopian market.

Diageo entered the Ethiopian market when it bought the Meta Abo Brewery from the state in 2012 for 225 million dollars. It has continued to expand its capacities, with more investments. It owns brands such as Meta and Azmera; the latter is currently available only in parts of the country.

The company hopes its Guinness effort will succeed. It is set to debut its newest acquisition on March 31st at an event named “Feshta”. It is expended to spend millions in advertising and road shows. It will produce the Guinness brand at its expected plant in Sebeta, about 50 km in the outskirts of Addis Ababa.

The company has presence in almost 180 countries and is involved in the beer, wine and liquor markets, especially with brands such as the Johnnie Walker and the Smirnoff.

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