NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 5 – East African Breweries (EABL) is set to introduce smaller packaging for its premium spirits and liquor as it seeks to tap into the fast growing spirits market.
The decision to develop smaller bottles of 250ml comes at a time when the alcoholics beverage maker announced a slump in the growth of beer sales in its 2011 full year results and sees the spirits business has potential to grow the firms bottom line.
Drinks such as Johnnie Walker and Baileys will retail in smaller quantities of 250ml to make them accessible to the mass market.
Spirit sales in EABL’s 2011 full year lifted performance in Kenya with volumes up 78 percent with Johnny Walker being the best performer with a sales growth of 158 percent while Smirnoff and Gilbeys each grew by 18 percent.
“We have to transform our participation in this space. We have to be as good in spirits just as we are in the beer market,” EABL Managing Director Seni Adetu said in August.
The beer maker has also launched new products into the market such as Tusker Lite to endear it to customers and protect its market share. It has also put a lot focus on packaging as a differentiator and has repackaged its flagship beer Tusker on several occasions.
Despite controlling 95 percent of Kenya’s beer industry, EABL is facing increased competition with the entry of SAB Millers who are now distributing Castle and Redds into the market as well Heineken who opened a regional office to push their brand.
EABL plans to grow its market throughout East Africa with Southern Sudan being its newest market. The firm has registered a unit in Southern Sudan, where it currently exports its products and has also bought land and is determining whether to operate through a joint venture or on its own.
The competition from the new players is bound to create vibrancy in the alcoholic beverages market with the likes of Heineken and Crown Beverages looking to use Kenya as a feeder to Tanzania, Uganda, Southern Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia, Djibouti, Madagascar, Comoros, Seychelles and Eritrea.