By David Mugabe
The beer industry is optimistic about a sound economic environment in 2014 that should see beer consumption rise again after a tough 2013.
“2013 was a tough year from a consumers’ point of view, they have little disposable income. Beer volumes were down by about 5-10%. 2014 will be tough but better than 2013,” said Nick Jenkinson, Nile Breweries managing director.
Jenkinson was addressing the media over the weekend about the company’s outlook for 2014.
He called for more use of pesticides and fertilizers to boost farm productivity especially for materials produced locally like sorghum.
“We need to start improving yields and farm techniques,” said Jenkinson.
Currently 3,500 tonnes of barley are produced locally although Nile Breweries consumes 12,000 tonnes locally. This is about 30% of inputs sourced locally with the rest imported.
He said the high barley imports is because barley needs high altitudes to grow and geographically, it cannot be grown everywhere while land is under enormous pressure in areas where it is grown currently in Kapchorwa and Mount Elgon.
Beer consumption in Uganda is still low at about 7-8 liters per capita consumption. Much of the alcohol consumed is informal and semi processed because beer is still relatively expensive.
But with an expanding economy and more disposable income, this is set to grow.
“The prognosis for beer is positive with underlying prospects on oil coming on stream, and rising incomes,” observed Jenkinson.