Heady times as gin revolution sweeps Kenya

Heady times as gin revolution sweeps Kenya

Analysts attribute the prodigious consumption of spirits to a growing middle class with a taste for finer things, including whiskey and rum, improved earnings, as well as a lifestyle change. [Courtesy] In October last year, the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) sent out a terse notice that it was going to auction 10 containers of Tuborg beer that had been dumped in its warehouse in 30 days.

The owners of the cargo were King Beverage Ltd, the franchise that also distributes Carlsberg beer throughout the East African region.

King Beverage was wholly owned by the late tycoon Chris Kirubi ’s Centum Investments before selling it at a loss to Danish Brewing Company East Africa towards the end of 2019.

“Pursuant to the provisions of section 42 of the East African Community Customs Management Act, 2004, notice is given that unless the under-mentioned goods are entered and removed from the customs warehouse within 30 days from the date of this notice, they will be sold by public auction on November 18, 2020,” said Rosemary Mureithi, the chief manager in charge of Inland Container Depots (ICD) in a gazette notice.

Most of the uncollected goods at the facility, an official at KRA told Financial Standard , belong to traders who are unable to find a market. READ MORE

Graphics: The Standard There was a small chance that the delay in the collection of the containers that arrived at KRA’s bonded warehouse on February 2, had been occasioned by the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Yet, even before the pandemic struck, the flow of premium beer – normally packaged in slim green bottles – from countries such as the Netherlands (famous for Heineken) and Denmark (the home of Carlsberg) had alarmingly been reducing to a trickle.

Not that Kenyans had suddenly become teetotalers . If anything, they were drinking even more “hard stuff.”

Even as the shipment of beer into the country declined, there was a substantial increase in imports of hard liquor, pointing to a change in taste and preferences among Kenyan imbibers as the green revolution gives way to the gin revolution. Unlike beer, which is mostly made in Kenya, a good chunk of the spirits are imported.

The leading source of hard liquor is the United Kingdom, the home of Scotch whiskey, where Kenya got more than a third of its spirits in 2019.

It is followed by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) at 12.9 per cent and Tanzania […]

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