Bars and Night Clubs Association of Zambia President Peter Mwale has directed the shortage of beer in the country to the distributors who have formed cartels.
Mr Mwale disclosed that the challenge right now is that there is an artificial shortage of beer and because of this shortage, the Association strongly believes that there is a cartel that has taken advantage of the situation and these distributors are not sincere and genuine as they are selecting whom to give the products and who not to give thereby creating a black market.
He added that these cartels buy beer from Zambia Breweries and hold on to it, once the shortage is created, they sell to selected retailers and individuals at a very high price as they want to make more profit than the profit Zambia Breweries and Bars and Nights club owners are making.
“We have been having a challenge in the beer distribution, as most of the bars and clubs in Zambia depend on Zambia Breweries as 90% of the goods in these night clubs and bars come from Zambia Breweries, but the challenge that is there is that Zambia Breweries does not distribute directly to retailers, as they have distributors, and what is that when Zambia Breweries produces all their products, they have accredited some distributors who are the ones whom we buy from,” he mentioned
Speaking during the HOT FM Hot Seat Programme, Mr Mwale explained that what is happening now is that Zambia Breweries has recommended a price per crate for Mosi at 185 Kwacha but right now the same crate for 185 Kwacha is being bought at 250 Kwacha, adding that greedy distributors who have formed these cartels are causing retailers to do panic buying because whenever one hears that there’s beer being sold somewhere they rush and queue up there which is leading to buying the product at more than the recommended price set by Zambian Breweries.
“The distributors have the right to add a markup price on the recommended price in order for them to generate some sort of profit but what we have seen is that they are greedy and selfish because when they are selling beer on behalf of Zambia Breweries we are there customers and the 185 Kwacha is the price that we buy for ourselves, distributors have their own arrangements with the Breweries which we don’t even know about but in the past anyone could go to Zambian Breweries and buy directly from there, with a system that was working very well but now the system has changed as it now has distributors who are selfish, greedy by being selective with whom to sale to or not, they have formed a cartel as they want to make super profits,” he disclosed
He mentioned that Zambia Breweries has been their all-weather friends as they have had meetings with them several times to discuss these challenges, and during the meetings they have brought these concerns to the Breweries attention where they said some selected named distributors are the ones that they feel are not doing well and the Breweries is fully aware of these distributors.
“When Zambia Breweries was engaged on these challenges, the Breweries assured us that they were going to look into these issues and at one point they did mention to us that if we have some evidence or they find that some of these distributors are abusing the agreement that they have with the Breweries for the distribution of beer they would punish them by cancelling the contracts, or reprimand them but for us we don’t want to be involved in their arrangements that’s between them but the truth is that there is shortage of beer on the ground which has become very common,” he mentioned
“We have provided evidence to Zambia Breweries, but this issue has become very difficult for us to handle, because we made some suggestions during one of the meetings stating that they give us our own way of buying beer from them, where they begin to sale to us directly as an Association then we take to our members across the country, but their response was not very positive as they said they will look into the suggestions made but we haven’t received any feedback till now,” he added
Mr Mwale assured that their Association has the capacity to handle the distribution process to their members, as they have structures across the country, and the beer will be directly delivered to the members once it is collected from Zambia Breweries.