You cannot have a monopoly forever, Nyathi warns Chibuku as ‘Big Bhuru’, Buffalo Breweries, bulldozes traditional beer market
A battle of beers is brewing in Zimbabwe following the introduction of Nyathi beer into the market, a year ago.
For a long time, Zimbabweans have known only one major brand of traditional, opaque beer, a taste that they share with most of Southern Africa for this craft beer made of maize, sorghum and water.
Shop shelves, too, have reflected this monopoly. Equally, for a long time, opaque beer has been the only product that has no variety.
It’s Chibuku, or the highway!
Now, this is slowly changing.
Nyathi Beer – a product of Buffalo Breweries, which is a subsidiary of the giant food and beverage company, Innscor, is slowly turning things around, and providing an alternative to the smooth-tasting opaque beer brand.
Nyathi was introduced into the market last November, and a few months short of its first birthday, it has given a good account of itself with the product being found in the majority of outlets across the country – from Checheche in Chipinge to Nyanga; from Zambezi to Limpopo.
According to Buffalo Breweries managing director, Richard Mann, this is going according to script, as his company is challenging the monopoly of its dominant competitor.
“You cannot operate a monopoly forever,” argues Mann.
“There will always be the consumer’s choice and taste will always take preference and will always dominate the direction of the market and that’s why we think there is an opportunity for us.”
He said the Zimbabwean consumer was thirsty for a new product and beer lovers were looking forward to having alternatives, while businesses, too, wanted new customers and alternative supplier to deal with.
“Consumer himself has been very ready for most of his life, never really had another choice. Of all of the consumable products that are out there on -shelf, opaque beer is probably the only product where they are two choices on -shelf in every single shop.
“So that presents a wonderful opportunity for us and just by that mere market of dynamic, the fact that we have got a great product as an alternative, that will create the spread of the product for us.
“The opportunity is for us to just make sure that the beer is available countrywide as best as we can and over time, we will eventually get there,” he said.
With great taste, good pricing, long shelf-life and wide distribution – often standing toe-to-toe with competition, Nyathi is ticking the right boxes.
Mann told Review & Mail that the company is targeting “the modern traditionalist”, which will make the beer a huge cultural and lifestyle symbol for both urban and rural folk.
Now, the manufacturer is even looking ahead, starting with Zimbabwe but with a longer short for the regional market.
Asked how the brand would survive – where so many have failed on their own, or simply found the competition too tough, Mann said the huge investment in the company put it on a sound footing.
“We have brought a plant that is big enough to take a large share of the market,” Mann said.
Nyathi is the brand name of the Traditional Beer commercially brewed by The Buffalo Brewing Company.
It has a single variety, Nyathi “Regular,” a premium sorghum beer, smooth and creamy with a distinctive malt flavour and a well-balanced sourness.