Zebidar enters hot Ethiopian local beer market


By Dawit Endeshaw | Addis Fortune January 10, 2017

Beer lovers have a new choice as Zebidar Brewery officially enters the Ethiopian beverage scene with 1.3 billion Br investment, becoming the seventh beer factory in the market. The company, which is a joint venture between local and foreign investors, came up with a unique pull-off cap bottle.

It hits the market with a 33cl bottle with a pull-off bottle cap. The company’s recommended retail price is 13 Br. The beer has five percent alcohol content.

The company officially launched its product at an event held at Golden Tulip Hotel. Zebidar takes its name from Zebidar Massif, a 3,600sqm high mountain located in Gurage Zone, Southern Regional State. The mountain is also located near Wolkite Town, Gubre District where the factory is being set, 136km southwest of Addis Abeba.

The factory rests at 150,000sqm plot of land. Currently, the brewery has an annual production capacity of 350,000 hectoliters. The capacity will put Zebidar in a sixth place, following Raya Brewery which has 500,000 hectoliters production capacity. Ethiopian brewery is now dominated by Heineken, and BGI, which have four and three million hectoliters, respectively.

“We know the market is becoming stiff,” Thibaulot Relecom, CEO and major shareholder of Unibra, told Fortune.

The construction of the factory took almost two years to complete. The civil work of the plant was performed by a local company while the rest was contracted to companies from Germany, France, and Italy.

“We believe Zebidar is equipped with the state of the art facilities,” Thibaulot said.

Zebidar is a joint venture of Unibra, a Belgium-based company, and its local partner – Jemar Hulugeb Industry S.C. The partnership started three years ago as Unibra took 60pc ownership of Zebidar and left the rest to Hulugeb. It took another eight months to reach a full agreement.

Hulugeb was established by local individual investors and business entities. Currently, Hulugeb has close to 1,100 shareholders including the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia and Nib International Bank S.C. Nib has 15 million shares with a par value of 500 Br.

Unibra which has operated in the African beverage market for more than five decades has a strong market presence in countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Rwanda. The company is also known for its real estate development in the DRC and Belgium. Unibra’s most well-known brands include Skol beer sold across 12 African countries.

When Unibra entered into an agreement with Jemar, the Ethiopian beer per capita consumption was five liters. It is now 10 litres per capita. Just a decade ago, the county’s total production was not far from one million hectoliters.

With its new beer, the company will focus on markets in the southern regional states, Addis Abeba and Adama. It will reach out to customers using seven main distributors.

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