Raheem Akingbolu writes that as the industry prepares to witness the first global beer festival this year, the development could positively affect other sectors of the economy
Beer is one of the oldest beverages humans have produced, dating back to at least the fifth millennium BC and recorded in the written history of ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia. Chemical tests of ancient pottery jars reveal that beer was produced as far back as about 7,000 years ago in what is today Iraq.
According to findings, during the Industrial Revolution, the production of beer moved from artisanal manufacture to industrial manufacture, and domestic manufacture ceased to be significant by the end of the 19th century.
Alcohol has long been regarded as a social leveler, and the act of communal drinking as a means of communication between those of different ranks and status in society
Major life-cycle events such as birth, coming-of-age, marriage and death; important life-changes such as graduation or retirement – all require ritual of endorsement and celebration
Today, the brewing industry is a global business, consisting of several dominant multinational companies and many thousands of smaller producers ranging from brewpubs to regional breweries. More than 133 billion liters (35 billion gallons) are sold per year—producing total billions of naira in revenue.
In Africa, the beer market has grown significantly led by South Africa, followed by Nigeria and Angola. Today, beer is celebrated all over the world and in some countries, it has assumed the status of a special day for celebration and enjoyment.
Proposed beer festival in 2017
To keep the scene active in Nigeria and to further open up the economy, beer brewers in the country will in September 2017 collaborate with their counterparts across the globe to hold the maiden Nigerian Beer Festival in Lagos. The festival will make variety of beers and other alcoholic drinks available for consumers.
Like in Germany, where the festival has become a major tourist’s event, attracting over 50,000 tourists yearly to the “oktoberfest” beer festival, other countries in Europe and America are catching the bug. This event, according to the organisers, would see Nigeria enrolled into the league of Beer Festivals around the World
Other notable countries are Czech Republic, Canada, Durham, Columbia, Britain, Belgium, among others.
“Nigeria Bear Festival will be a week-long carnival-like funfair, entertainment, sales and marketing event with the idea to gather the largest community of beer consumers from across the country and beyond with economic value for the brands and the economy at large,” the organisers said.
The Germany festival commonly referred to as Munich Beer Festival or Oktoberfest is famous not only because it is a carnival but because it retains the integrity of Bavaria custom and lifestyle. People enjoy delicious food at the festival and as well participate in series of colorful recreational activities like horse racing, shooting, juggling and various theatrical performances.
The Nigerian festival, therefore, will serve as platform to showcase and market the various beer brands and other alcoholic drinks in Nigeria, while at the same time creating leverages for captains of industry to mingle and network.
Each of participating brands has the opportunity to own particular days during the week to entertain the teeming visitors at the festival. Variety of beer brands will be available for tasting and purchase in a carnival like atmosphere.
A selection of top Nigerian artistes will perform daily at the festival. Fashion show, music concerts, fireworks display, carnival, lifestyle, barbeque, asun, beer will beautify the atmosphere.
It is also important to note that the festival would serve as an umbrella for other sectors of the economy to display their products and services which will attract business networking. In order to display and achieve first class standards as obtained in other parts of the world with world class innovation,
The Nigerian Beer Festival organisers in partnership with reputable and qualified architects in Poland and Spain have also designed modula stand to fit into any shape or style desired by exhibitors.
Reasons for the festival
Organisers of the festival have also explained that the reason for the event is that Nigeria has the largest population in Africa, a growing middle class and a large number of drinking age consumers continues to emerge.
According to them, Nigeria is indisputably the second largest alcohol market in the entire Africa, with an expected total volume of 15.2m hectolitres per year. So, drinking alcohol is a social activity in Nigeria as 80 per cent of the country’s alcohol sales are on-trade. Beer is the most popular alcoholic drink in the country, making up the larger percentage of all alcohol sales.
Therefore, this event will be an organised platform to showcase and celebrate the various beer brands and other alcoholic drinks in Nigeria with reference to business, lifestyle, culture, tradition and social economic benefits in a carnival like atmosphere.
The organisers also make bold to say that this festival is strictly for adult who are advised to drink reasonably, saying further that Nigeria Beer Festival will not admit persons below “18 years.”
More importantly, the organisers maintained that the Nigerian festival, therefore, will apart from serving as platform to showcase and celebrate the various beer brands and other alcoholic drinks in Nigeria, while at the same time creating a forum for socio-cultural interaction and networking.
Aside beer tasting, organisers have stated that the week-long festival would see an international speaker talk about, Beer And You, while another speaker will discuss Beer And Responsibility Enjoyment and the guest speaker rounds off with Beer And Celebration.
The organisers stated on their website that drinking alcohol is a social activity in Nigeria as 80 per cent of the country’s alcohol sales are on-trade.
“Beer is the most popular alcoholic drink in the country, making up the larger percentage of all alcohol sales.
Therefore, this event will be an organised platform to showcase and market the various beer brands and other alcoholic drinks in Nigeria with reference to business, lifestyle, culture, tradition and social economic benefits in a carnival-like atmosphere. The organisers also make bold to say that this festival is for adults who are advised to drink reasonably, saying further that beer festival will not admit persons below 18 years,” they said.
An experiential marketing practitioner, Lucas Ekom, believes that festival like this has fast grown to become major tourism event across the globe with countries, such as Germany attracting well over 50,000 tourists, adding its being hosted in Lagos means that over 50,000 tourists are expected to come to Nigeria to boost the economy yearning for growth.
“To my knowledge, the beer festival will partner the Federal Ministry of Culture and Tourism to drive this noble idea. It will hold in Lagos, the headquarters of all the major beer brands, and touted as the entertainment hub of Nigeria and by extension, Africa,” he said.
Meanwhile, a new report by Canadean Market Report, expects more Africans to enter the beer market from the home brew sector, while commercial beer and premium brands forge ahead in the exploding African beer market.
According to the report, the African beer market is the fastest growing global beer market with a yearly average growth rate of five per cent between 2013 and next year. This means the African beer market growth will beat that of Asia and Latin America, projected to witness a growth rate of four percent and three percent. South Africa is the biggest market in Africa, with an expected total volume of 30,921th hectolitre (hl) in 2014, followed by Nigeria with 15,200th hl and Angola with 12,790th hl.
Account Director, Canadean Market Report, Kevin Baker, said: “Africa has seen inflation fall, foreign debt shrink and GDP rise in the last few years. Moreover, population growth – once feared as a major contributor to poverty – is now perceived as an asset, with the working age population set to outgrow that of China and India.”
Beer growth rates
Canadean survey found that more African consumers will change their home brewed drinks for commercially brewed ones over the coming years.
“At the moment, homemade alcohol products still dominate the African market, but they pose a significant health risk. This is an incentive for consumers to move away from ‘home brews’ and instead turn to commercial beer,” says Baker.
Protecting under-age from the beer festival
According to Ekom, the festival will not allow an under-age.
“In fact, there are mechanisms that will be used to check this and the event will also be used to preach responsible drinking among adults,” she said.
Contribution to the economy
The beer industry is a large segment of the food and beverages sub-sector. It constitutes the non-oil sector where Nigeria is leveraging on to drive her economic diversification programme. Having evolved from bottling to a diversified industry involved in the production of canned drinks and the use of tetra pack, the sector accounted for 35.9 per cent of the growth in the industrial sector, which grew in 2014 by 6.41 per cent as against 0.87 per cent in 2013.
Nigerian Breweries Plc has the largest coverage, with about eight breweries located across the country and estimated yearly capacity of 13.5 million hectoliters (mn hl).
Guinness operates four breweries with a total yearly capacity of 7.5mn hl by 2014. SABM has built up its capacity (by acquisition) to about 1.8mn hl, which includes Pabod Breweries in Port Harcourt, International Breweries in Ilesa and Onitsha.
Experts said the beer sector is very well positioned to galvanise the economy through industrialisation. Brewery companies, whose principal activities include the production, packaging and sales of alcoholic and malt beverages, employ close to one million people.