Greek philosopher Plato said “he was a wise man who invented beer”. It is a statement that undoubtedly draws revulsion among many religious communities but brewers and drinkers alike certainly cherish the thought.
BY NDAMU SANDU
Local beverage producer, Delta Corporation is smiling all the way to the bank as the introduction of Chibuku Super has kept the company’s production line on its toes due to swelling demand.
While its beverage categories have declined in volumes in the quarter ended June 30, Chibuku Super has bucked the trend, recording growth in volume and only restricted by capacity.
“Chibuku Super recorded strong growth which was restricted by the available capacity. The installation of the new Chibuku Super production facility at Fairbridge in Bulawayo is expected to ease product availability,” Delta said in a trading update.
The category has been a wonder brew since its introduction in 2013. In the financial year ended March 2014, Chibuku Super contributed 10% to sorghum beer volumes. In the financial year ended March 2015, the contribution had risen to 29%.
But this has seen Delta failing to supply the market. A survey by Standardbusiness showed that some outlets were running out of Chibuku Super.
“This product is hard to come by. Delta should deliver the beer twice a week because it runs out very fast,” said Tonderai who guzzles the brew at the Civic Centre in Marlborough.
“If Delta supplies the beer on Thursday by Saturday it would have been finished.”
However, a barman at a joint in Epworth said deliveries were coming on time and the revellers were responding well.
He said there had been reports that some delivery drivers were demanding bribes from retailers so that they supply more cases of the brew.
Delta spokesperson Alex Makamure said Chibuku Super addressed some of the shortcomings of the Scud, which comes in a returnable pack.
“The litre or 1,25 litre packs are easy to handle and offer convenience. The carbonated product has consistent quality and many other positives,” he said.
Makamure said the growth of the Chibuku Super was eating into the Scud portion. He said the Scud remained a key part of the product map as some of their “consumers prefer the fermenting, live Chibuku”.
Makamure said Delta had been investing in capacity, hence the upgrade to the Chitungwiza factory in 2013/14 and the new Fairbridge brewery. The projects, he said, had long gestation periods of nine to 12 months.
He said the total capacity after Fairbridge would be 3 million hectolitres per year. Production at Fairbridge starts today.
Who are the brains behind Chibuku Super?
Makamure says the product came out of the collaborative work done by the Cross Country Opaque Beer team at SABMiller Africa to improve the shelf stability and packaging of Chibuku.
The initial trials were conducted in Zambia and Zimbabwe.
“Zambia was the first to produce this innovation but Zimbabwe perfected the equipment design and recorded phenomenal success ahead of the other markets. Zimbabwe has always been the leading country on the Chibuku brand. Delta owns the Chibuku brand in Zimbabwe while elsewhere it belongs to SABMiller, except for South Africa,” Makamure said.