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KBL seeks to change belief that drinking before 5pm is problematic – Business Daily

Why don’t Kenyans drink a beer with lunch, then walk back to the office as Germans and Swedes do? One beer with a meal is hardly intoxicating so why not enjoy that drink of choice, instead of being limited to juices or water?
Kenya Breweries Limited (KBL) seeks to change the belief that drinking alcohol before 5pm is problematic by introducing beer as an everyday lunch accompaniment.
Catherine Ndungu, KBL Emerging Beers marketing manager says there is nothing wrong with a casual light beer during lunch.
In March, the brewer launched a new variant of the WhiteCap Crisp beer with a three percent ABV (alcohol by volume), and in July introduced a 330 ml canned beer in the market.
Ms Ndungu says that the beer can be enjoyed anytime, anywhere, be it over a meal especially, during business meetings, or even after a workout.
“We want to break that belief that beer has to be drunk after hours, in a dark place or a dark corner in a bar,” she says adding that Kenyans should catch up with the rest of the world where beer is a favourite beverage during lunch hour.
For years, Kenyans have preferred wine, juice or tea, and coffee as lunch and afternoon drinks. “In the Kenyan market, people are so accustomed to either wine or water,” she says.
However, with a growing sophisticated class of drinkers, and a shift to healthier food options with less sugar, fat, and calories, the beer markets have found a new market.
According to Ms Ndungu, crisp and clean beers are gaining popularity among light drinkers looking for beverages whose alcohol content is lower than normal.
Besides the low-alcohol beers, brewers are looking to intensify marketing for their low-carb beers [drinks with low carbohydrates] to health-conscious drinkers to ward off competition from craft beer makers.
“What happens is that when you drink light beer you can moderate yourself. It is not like the heavy beers that can make you lose focus and not operate, say, machinery. Nevertheless, we advise our customers to drink responsibly,” she says, adding that in business meetings instead of serving water, a light beer would suffice.
Normally, Kenyan consumers indulge in heavy drinking after work and during weekends. How then can one get into the habit of drinking in moderation and sophistication? And why is beer a good pairing with different types of food?
Kelvin Kamau, a sommelier, says that beer is a great match for food because of the complexity of its flavours, its ability to provide refreshment, and its interaction with many food flavours.
“Even before the meal, beer already is doing its work of food pairing as it also stimulates the appetite,” he says.
When pairing, it all comes down to matching the food’s flavour with that of the beer.
Asked which are the best light beers and food pairings, Mr Kamau says it all depends on one’s taste. He is, however quick to caution drinkers to stick to lower alcohol content beverages to avoid a mid-afternoon slump.
He adds that most light beers do not have a strong flavour, and are rarely hoppy or bitter. They are among the palest type of beer and are well known for their crisp and refreshing taste.
Because of their refreshing flavour, they are ideal for pairing with spicy dishes, but one can also pair these beers with just about any type of food. For chicken, seafood, or pasta, he says there is only one rule; do not overpower these dishes with beer.
“Therefore, lighter is better. A light beer with chicken or fish is perfect. (If creams or sauces are added you need a heavy, richer beer.) Pasta is slightly more versatile but still pairs well with similar brews,” Mr Kamau advises.
Fried foods are light in flavour profile. He recommends that a brew that will help cleanse the palate. “In general, order a beer to cleanse your palate without washing away all the salty flavours, cutting through and bringing out the taste of the food,” says Mr Kamau, who prefers his light beer with his fries.
The same recommendation goes for most fried, salty dishes.
John Musunga, the KBL managing director says light beers are gaining popularity as consumers become more health conscious.
“It is important to innovate against unmet needs for customers, moderators, occasional consumers and abstainers by offering a credible low and non-alcoholic option into their drinks’ repertoire,” says Mr Musunga.
Beer consumption in Kenya has risen over the years with the introduction of flavoured options with tastes of ginger or mango, gluten-free, light and craft beers.
According to the full-year results for the period ended June 30, 2022, East African Breweries Limited (EABL) with subsidiaries in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda sold alcohol worth Sh109.7 billion.
Out of this, 68 percent, or about Sh74.4 billion was bought by Kenyans. Uganda delivered 18 percent of the sales, while the Tanzanian market accounted for 14 percent.
Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania grew by 30, 24 and 21 percent respectively. Nairobi and Central regions top in consumption of mainstream brews at 15.7 percent and 9.2 percent respectively and brewers are looking to increase the numbers by enticing them with beer at lunch hour.
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Joseph Muongi

Financial.co.ke was founded by Mr. Joseph Muongi Kamau. He holds a Master of Science in Finance, Bachelors of Science in Actuarial Science and a Certificate of proficiencty in insurance. He's also the lead financial consultant.