Barundi Amstel floods market, Bralirwa could loose customers

It all started a month ago, when Rwanda Breweries and Soft Drinks Manufacturer, Bralirwa could not satisfy the market because of the company’s low production capacity.

It all started a month ago, when Rwanda Breweries and Soft Drinks Manufacturer, Bralirwa could not satisfy the market because of the company’s low production capacity.

The company resorted to importing Amstel Bock beers, from its sister company in Burundi, Brarudi.

For these few weeks the beer has been on the market, it has won many hearts of Rwandans, with some saying the taste of the Burundi Amstel is ‘superior to that of Rwanda.’

Ronald Karangwa says that he enjoys the Burundi Amstel and that he would love to have it always available on the market but the inconsistence of its supply is the only thing that makes him holdback his consumption rate.

"If the supply was constant, then I would love drinking at least a bottle of Amstel from Burundi every evening," he added.

Innocent Ndamagye said, "It’s one of the good tasting beers I have ever taken."

He also says that some times he asks for it in the bars but at times where he drinks from the beer is not always available.

However, voting for a beer brand as best remains an individual’s taste and preference.

"These beers are more or less the same in taste. I have taken both of them and I have satisfied my desires," said Jimmy Rutayisire another Amstel consumer.

The continuous supply of the Burundi Amstel on the Rwandan market may win many Bralirwa consumers.

Distributors believe it could lead to loss of market if the consumer expectations are not met.

"If you are not consistent in what you are offering, it then becomes a problem because consumers’ views are different and changing," said one of the bar attendants in Remera who preferred anonymity.

Alexander P.J.L. Koch, commercial director of Bralirwa however says the supplies from Burundi are temporary and that within seven weeks everything will be fine.

He said they are currently constrained because they are trying to expand their production line and up the capacity in Gisenyi. When the rehabilitation is completed, the factory will be able to produce between 20,000 and 30,000 bottles of Amstel weekly.

"It’s just going to last for seven weeks and afterwards we shall have enough Amstel produced here," said the commercial director.

Koch said that they import about five trucks of Amstel from Burundi weekly in order to satisfy the Rwandan demand.

"We are focusing on improving the supplies on the local market first, and then we can focus on the regional market," he said.

Beer prices increased

The two companies increased beer prices in January and February saying the soaring prices of raw materials, most of which are imported had forced them to do so.

Brarudi further attributed the increase of local prices to a rise in the price of sugar, petrol, water, and electricity as well as the devaluation of the local currency.

Bralirwa is now introducing the maize crop as an ingredient in beer production. This would reduce the over dependency on the malt which is the major ingredient in beer brewing in most of bralirwa products.

This would help the company hedge against increasing global prices for grains such as malt, yeast and other inputs including sugar and fuel.

The escalating prices have always left brewers in a no alternative position of increasing consumer prices for their brews.

Sven Piederiet, Bralirwa’s director for finance was recently quoted saying that poor harvests in 2007, economic expansion in big markets such as Brazil, China, India and Russia coupled with their huge population and the increasing tendency towards replacing fossil fuels with bio-fuels will push prices up by a factor of between 20 and 50 per cent in 2008.

"So operational profitability is likely to remain flat because inputs will cost more yet it is unlikely that we will increase prices," he said.