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Ghana Beer Market Review (Snippet From New Report)

The Republic of Ghana, which gained Independence from the United Kingdom in 1957, is in West Africa bordered by the Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Togo and the Gulf of Guinea and covers 238,500 sq km. The country places a high dependency on agriculture which accounts for around 30% of GDP and over 50% of employment. Ghana is a leading cocoa exporter but the country is also rich in natural resources.

The population now stands at 25 million with an annual growth rate of just under 2%. Over a third of Ghanaians are under 14 years but less than 5%are over 65 with 15-64 year olds accounting for 60% of all inhabitants. There are over 100 ethnic groups but English, is the official language, a legacy of British colonial rule. Almost 70% of Ghanaians are Christian, 16% are Muslim.

Impressive growth and record poverty reduction over the past 20 years have made Ghana an African success story. GDP has grown between 4-8% annually over the past decade but more rapidly last year. The country is one of the most thriving democracies on the continent today and enjoys political stability and relative safety. It also offers expanding market opportunities due to its liberal policies.

The market place itself is an exotic mixture of traditional, informal market stalls complemented by the rise of modern retail shopping centres, such as the Accra Mall, which opened in 2007/8. Mall retailing is still in its infancy, particularly outside the capital, but is attracting attention both from foreign and local operators and the rising affluent segment of the population with an appetite for international standard shopping environments and products. On-premise, Ghanaians love to socialise and tend to frequent local bars (or “spots”) where prices are cheaper than Western bars, hotels and restaurants. Apart from at beach resorts, western style outlets, such as “The Office”, “Champs”, “Fusion” and “Jokers” are mainly in Accra.

In 1931 the Overseas Brewery Limited was built in Ghana. This was the first brewery built in the European tradition in West Africa. Although Ghana enjoys a heady tradition of brewed and fermented alcohols, prior to this point Western style beer had to be imported.

Beer demand is rising rapidly – at a rate of 5-10% annually by volume. The current Ghana market size is estimated at 1.65 million hectolitres, the equivalent of almost 7 litres per head of population. This level of consumption is actually low by international standards. It is over 130 litres per head in Czech Republic, 60 litres in South Africa and 14 litres in Kenya. This suggests strong continuing future potential.

Today imported beer, such as Carlsberg, is available in Ghana but most beer is brewed domestically as it is cheaper. Some domestic beers employ imported ingredients e.g. barley, malt, sugar though maize (as used by Club lager) and sorghum (as employed by Guinness Ghana Breweries Ltd) are locally grown substitutes to imported grains. However, farmers producing sorghum in the north of the country must contend with erratic rain and poor soil conditions which inhibits the transfer from imported grains to local production. Some local beer is also exported though the main domestic brands – Star, Guinness etc… are also brewed in neighbouring countries, such as Nigeria.

In Ghana lagers have an average strength of 5% abv. Brands at this strength include Club, Star and Gulder. Most of the remaining beers are stouts which tend to be stronger than lagers. Castle milk stout is 6% abv whilst Foreign Extra stout is 7.5% abv. According to limited press reports, stout, particularly Guinness, appears to be more popular than lager, by a factor of 2:1. Based on these reports the leading beer brands in Ghana appear to be:
1. Guinness
2. Star
3. Castle

Beer is available in glass bottles, cans and on draught. Bottled beers dominate. Bottle sizes vary from single-serve 330/375ml to circa 600ml multi-serve. Cans have been observed in Western hotels but they are far from the norm. A number of brands, including Club, Guinness and Gulder are also available on draught.

On average, a large bottle of domestic beer costs around the equivalent of U$1-2 (Cedi 2-4) but prices can vary considerably depending on where the beer is bought or served. Imported beer is much more expensive.

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