BEER BATTLES

Mozambique 2020 | INDUSTRY | FOCUS: BREWERIES IN MOZAMBIQUE

Although underdeveloped, Mozambique's beer industry has a long history and a bright future. Home to one of Africa's most-awarded beers, Laurentina, the country is now a battleground for Heineken and ABInbev, two of the largest beer companies on the planet.

It might come as a shock to the majority of beer devotees out there, but Mozambique is world famous for its beers. Don't just take our word for it. Laurentina, the most prized of all beers in Mozambique, is in fact one of the most-awarded beers in Africa. In 2019, it received a gold award from Brussel-based Monde Selection, an institute that has been evaluating consumer products since 1961. It comes in two versions: Laurentina Clara, a pale lager, and Laurentina Preta, a dark lager.

First brewed in 1932 by a German master brewer who was hired by George Cretikos, a Greek immigrant who owned a beverage factory in Lourenco Marques (present-day Maputo), Laurentina is currently exported to the EU, the UK, and South Africa. Notably, it was named Laurentina in the honor of the inhabitants of the Mozambican capital. Today, Laurentina is produced by Beers of Mozambique (CDM), a 23-year-old company that resulted from the privatization of the former Sogere brewery in 1995. Apart from Laurentina, CDM produces other flagship brands such as 2M (pronounced Dos Em), Manica, Impala, and Castle Lite, and markets global brands such as Budweiser and Stella Artois. CDM is partially owned by South Africa-based SABMiller, which holds 49.1% of the company's shares. Interestingly, in 2016, SABMiller was acquired for USD100-billion by the ABInbev group, one of the largest brewing companies in the world and the owner of more than 200 brands, including Budweiser.

With three breweries in Mozambique, one in Maputo, one in Beira, and one in Nampula, ABInbev enjoyed little to no competition in the country until 2017, when international giant Heineken announced its decision to invest in a USD100-million brewery with a production capacity of 0.8 million hectoliters. Soon after, in late 2018, ABInbev responded to the threat from Heineken in kind with a decision to invest in a USD180-million brewery with a production capacity of 2 million hectoliters. Whereas the Heineken brewery entered into production in March 2019, ABInbev's new brewery only carried out its first production test in early 2020. Most importantly, much to the benefit of the end consumer and the local economy, this rise in competition has pushed both companies to find new ways to capture market share and establish their standing in a growing market. While Heineken is sourcing maize for its new Txilar brand from over 1,000 Mozambican farmers, setting up sustainability campaigns such as the Praia Zero project and sending employees for training to other countries, ABInbev is investing in green technologies to reduce the company's heat-related carbon dioxide emissions. Although Mozambique's beer market is still underdeveloped, with consumption at 12 liters per capita, it has been growing rapidly of late on the back of encouraging socioeconomic fundamentals. With two of the world's largest players battling for market share in the country, the only way is up.