Holiday Booth

Medhanit Tekle, a 26-year old newly married woman who lives around Gofa Mazoria in Nefas Silk, Lafto District, was among the people that queued at the gate of the National Alcohol Factory, on the afternoon of Wednesday April 16, 2014, to buy liquor for the holiday.

Her favourite liquor, super mint areqe sells for 60 Br a bottle at the factory outlet near Mexico Square in Lideta District, 10 Br cheaper than where she lives. She was also looking forward to adding a bottle of Guder wine, which would complement the “incomparable” tella (malt beer) which she has brewed at home.

“The holiday will not be that colourful without tella,” she says.

Tella, a popular traditional drink, has two to four percent alcohol content, while, if filtered, it could go up to five or six percent, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Other local beer varieties include Korefe, Shameta and Borde. There is also tej, honey mead made from honey and hop leaves, as well as katikala (areqe), a home-made liquor. The WHO study puts the alcohol content of tej at 6.98 to and 10.9pc, and that of areqe at 45 pc.

Total alcohol consumption between 200506 to 201011 including beer, was nine billion Birr according to the Central Statistics Agency (CSA). The actual figure could have been far higher if people had been more honest about their home consumption, according to an official at the Agency.

Ten years ago, the per capita alcohol consumption of the nation was close to 2.3 litres of pure alcohol, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). However, this increased to close to five litres in 2010.

This growing consumption is vividly demonstrated in the ever increasing supply of imported and locally produced alcoholic drinks.

Importation of Alcohol drinks has increased rapidly in the last five years, growing from 204,706,985 Br in 2009 to 871, 465,190 Br in 2013, according to the CSA. This growth is also reflected in the production of drinks in the country.

Alcohol production on an industry level has shown big increment in the country in the last couple of years. The total production that was 382, 536 hectolitres in 200708 has reached 4,866,431 hectolitres in 201112.

A major player in the local industry, National Alcohol Factory is producing 30,000 bottles of alcohol a day at its two factories, located at Mexico and Sebeta in Addis Abeba and Oromia regional state, respectively. In order to satisfy the huge escalation in demand, National plans to produce 5.6 million litres of alcohol in the current fiscal year. This is a 33pc increase when compared to last year’s production of 4.2 million litres. The factory has also increased its production by an annual average of 12 pc over the past 10 years, it says.

The factory produces and sells around 10 products including Ouzo, Gin, Aperitif, brandy, cognac, Merara, Ferneto, Enatina Lij and Super mint, pineapple, and orange flavored Araki with a price range of 52-60 Br for customers who come with empty bottles. One such customer is Kibebew Kibatu, owner of Nice Butchery and Grocery near the Air Force base in Bishoftu, Oromia, 47 km south of Addis Abeba. He came to the factory’s outlet in Addis Abeba and bought 65 bottles of Araki and cognac and two boxes of mini Gin.

“There is a truck that delivers the product in our town but it rarely comes and it is hard to depend on it,” Kibebew says.

Bekelech Ayele, a sales person at National’s outlet was moving around fast within the store trying to serve the gathering crowd of customers on Wednesday.

“The demand is good and we hope it will get better during the eve and the week after the holiday,” she said.

The sales outlet is operating at normal office hours but it will be open for 12 hours if the need arises, according to the sales person.

National Alcohol Factory – a state enterprise – also uses several trucks to distribute its products on a dozen routes in Addis Abeba. Other alcohol and liquor factories include Asnake, Balezaf, and Ergib International Plc.

Kulibi Gabriel grocery around Riche on Sierra Leone Street is looking towards boosting its sales after a two-month lull.

The grocery sells Araki for 70 Br, a bottle of Guder Wine for 50 Br, Winter Palace Vodka for 650 Br. The same vodka, if drank at the grocery, will cost 760 Br, according to Dereje Gebre, bartender at the establishment. The same is true for Red label Whisky, which costs 700Br, which is 100 less expensive than when consumed within the grocery.

Forty-five percent of women and 53 pc of men in Ethiopia reported drinking alcohol at some point in their lives. For both women and men this proportion increases with age, and it is higher among urban residents than rural residents, according to a CSA research on health and alcohol consumption undertaken in 2011.

Those percentages mask a huge difference among regions. The percentages for women and men in Somali region are two and five percent, respectively, while in Tigray it is 86 pc for women and 91 pc for men.

Alcohol consumption is highest among women and men with more than secondary education and in the highest wealth quintile, but there is no clear association between alcohol consumption and education and wealth in general, according to CSA. But generally importers of trendy alcoholic drinks target the growing middle class.

Country Trading is among the prominent importers of liquors in the country, targeting this group. In its upscale liquor store located around Piazza in Arada district, the company sells different drinks including whisky, Cognac, champagne, sambuca, Gin, Aperitif and wine not to forget its flagship products of Red Bull, Carlsberg beer and Stolichnaya vodka. And the company is ready to make big sales during the holiday season.

“The holiday market is good and it is picking up since Monday, the last week of lent, but we expect major increment in sells in the last three days until the holiday, that is starting Thursday,” Hewan Woldegebriel, Sales person of Country Trading says. The prices of Country Trading’s imports range from 180 Br for wine to 3,000 Br for vodka.

“The liquor business is normally down during the fasting season and we have also felt that, but come Easter people start to buy drinks, especially wine, vodka and whisky,” she said.

A customer, Alem Tsehaye, 48, from London, was able to buy a bottle of vodka and wine for her husband for 536 and 280 Br, respectively.

“I don’t normally drink but I like the festivities of the holiday,” Alem told Fortune, while putting her drinks in her minivan.

Source : Addis Fortune

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