Why responsible drinking should be of concern to all of us?

//Why responsible drinking should be of concern to all of us?

By Jose Moran

One of the major aims of businesses is to make profits. But at Zambian Breweries our aim and objective goes beyond that. We are concerned with the ultimate welfare of the consumers of our products.

As the country’s largest brewing company, responsible drinking is very close to our hearts.

As we mark Global Beer Responsible Day this month with a series of events for employees and our retail trade partners, we are reminded of the importance of the subject.

As Zambian Breweries, we have come out strongly and we will always do so in support of the government’s moves to stamp out alcohol abuse and ensure people are responsible when drinking.

We are also in support and welcome the government’s moves to ensure effective management of the production and sale of alcohol.

As Zambian Breweries, we cannot hide the fact that we are an alcohol producing company and that we must take a responsible approach to alcohol sales and consumption in the country. Under-age drinking, drink driving and other forms of alcohol abuse are of enormous concern to me personally, my board, management, and all of us at Zambian Breweries.

We spend significant time and resources investing in trying to create a more responsible approach to alcohol consumption among all our consumers.

As a group, AB InBev, of which Zambian Breweries is a subsidiary, is very focussed on a future that involves lower or no alcohol by volume (ABV) beers in the future. The current average alcohol content of Zambian Breweries beers is 5 percent and we are seeking to reduce that further over time.

However, our efforts and vision are being undermined by the onslaught of cheap illicit spirits in the country. But this vision is being undermined by highly  organised local manufacturers, unscrupulous traders and smugglers of tujilijili, junta and the like, all reinforced by complicit officials turning a blind eye, corruption and ambivalence are driving a very worrying pattern for our nation

Our government had the foresight to ban tujilijili sachets a few years ago, but tujilijili is now fully back on the market in larger 200ml bottles known as junta. The rate at which it is growing is alarming. To make matters worse, these products have misleading names that make the consumer believe they will be a winner in life by consuming them. This is a very misleading messaging indeed.

Consumers can buy one Mosi bottle of 375ml for K8 with an alcohol content of 4.5 percent.  Alternatively, they can buy a 200ml bottle of junta for K5 with an ABV of 43 percent. However, it should be noted that alcohol at 43 percent has major implication for the health and related social ills for consumers and places huge pressure on the medical and family support systems in Zambia.  To make matters worse, these manufactures are not paying tax.

This means that we, Zambian Breweries, and the government – are being hampered in our shared goal of providing the people of Zambia with high-quality, consistent, properly labelled, affordable beverages in a regulated manner and with moderate and low-alcohol by volume levels. A goal that also generates tax revenue and protects the population from the enormous health and social damage caused by these products.

As Zambian Breweries, we take responsibility towards responsible alcohol consumption very seriously and we urge the government to respond to the threat of junta in a decisive and quick manner.

Cheap illicit alcohol, under-age drinking, drink driving and other forms of alcohol abuse are of enormous concern to myself personally, my board, management, and everyone at Zambian Breweries.

We are committed to following the law, paying taxes and promoting responsible drinking. We, at Zambian Breweries, believe that drinking of alcohol must be undertaken responsibly.  As such we have a committee that is directly responsible for that and is performing well.

At Zambian Breweries, we have a dream of creating “a better world” that encompasses a growing world, a healthier world and a cleaner world.

I urge consumers, manufacturers, retailers and government to pull together to achieve our shared goal of protecting the nation while ensuring that alcohol is enjoyed responsibly.

The author is Country Director of Zambian Breweries.

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