News in South Africa 27th October:

1. Short supply knocks alcohol industry:

After suffering deep financial losses due to the government’s Covid-19 lockdown and alcohol bans, liquor producers and retailers now have to contend with supply shortages and shipment delays ahead of the festive season.

Short supply knocks alcohol industry
Image taken by: Chris F

Savanna maker Distell is hard at work to ensure that it has enough supply to meet demand ahead of the festive season, following a shortage of South Africa’s beloved cider.

In addition to Savanna, Distell produces Hunter’s, Esprit and Bernini, as well as wines and spirits. And although South Africa’s total ban on alcohol sales has been lifted, like its competitors, Distell is still feeling the impact, which has been compounded by global supply chain shortages and shipment delays linked to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

As a result, many Savanna lovers have been finding that their favourite beverage, be it alcoholic or non-alcoholic, is in short supply.

Distell spokesperson Frank Ford said demand for Savanna has doubled in the past year, but the ban on liquor sales, glass shortage and global supply chain issues proved to be obstacles in meeting this demand.

“It’s not a great story, but it’s a nice problem to have,” Ford said.

And while it’s been a challenging time, he said glass maker Consol, which supplies the company with glass bottles, has been “fantastic” in trying to accommodate Distell.

With regards to whether Savanna drinkers will be able to quench their thirst during the busy festive season, Ford said the company is working on ensuring that there will be enough supply.

“It’s not going to be dry,” he said.

Ford said the setback was temporary, and although the group could use the bottling lines of other brands like Esprit, to compensate for Savanna’s capacity issue, the cider needs to have its own dedicated line because that is where the growth is.  

Consol confirmed that it has been impacted by the availability of glass.

“This is a glass industry shortage (it is not just Consol that is affected) which is the result of the various lockdowns and alcohol bans last year, and the current glass supply shortage is impacting all categories,” said Consol in a written response. 

Supplies have been directly affected by the alcohol ban, which forced factories to shut down.

“However, one major consequence of the extended lockdowns last year was Consol having to shut production and losing more than 100 000 tons, or 12% of total output, reducing the company’s ability to build vital stocks for future supply to all market categories,” said Consol. 

2. SAB to go 100% green:

The recent bout of load shedding has seen the South African Breweries’ (SAB) reiterate its plan to draw 100% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2025.

In addition to lessening the load on the already overwhelmed national grid, the breweries’ target will see a reduction in CO2 emissions.

SAB and holding company Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev) launched its renewable energy programme in 2020 with a solar power system installation at its Chamdor Brewery in Krugersdorp. Since then, it has rolled out solar projects at all seven breweries in South Africa. Alrode brewery in Johannesburg also makes use of bio-gas facilities.

South African Breweries (SAB) plans to make its popular Castle Lite beer using renewable energy, pointing to the most recent round of load shedding and ongoing power constraints in the country.

SAB said that all seven of its breweries in South Africa use solar power, with Alrode brewery in Johannesburg also using biogas facilities.

Between January and August 2021, the breweries have already generated over 9.7 Gwh (Gigawatt hours) of renewable electricity. The group said that this decision to integrate renewable power has also resulted in 9,443 tons of Co2 emissions reductions since the start of the year.

SAB said it now plans to make Castle Lite using only renewable electricity and entirely switch to renewable sources by 2025. The group said it would use all options available to reduce its load on the national grid further.

“We know how important sustainability and our environmental future is for South Africa, but sometimes, it feels like such a big task that we can’t do anything to make a difference,” said Castle Lite brand director Colleen Duvenage.

“Our consumers can do their bit by choosing a beer that is not only hugely enjoyable and super refreshing, but is also reducing its load on the national power supply with its production, ensuring there is more to go around. Meaning more enjoyment,” said Castle Lite Brand Director, Colleen Duvenage, in a statement last week.

In 2020, SAB and AB InBev Africa announced that their breweries across South Africa had introduced on-site solar facilities as part of a new multi-billion rand energy project.

The ultimate goal of the project, the group said, is to purchase 100% of the business’s electricity requirements at manufacturing sites across Africa by 2025.

AB InBev’s global renewable energy commitment is to have 50% of the company’s purchased electricity come from renewable energy sources by 2020, and 100% by 2025.

3. Lockdown changes to restaurants:

Famous Brands has published its interim financial results for the six months ended 31 August 2021, with the group posting solid results despite the impact of lockdown and violent looting in July.

The group – which carries brands such as Steers, Debonairs and Wimpy – reported revenue of R3 billion, up 50% compared to the previous period. Headline earnings per share increased to 97 cents (+140%) while operating profit increased to R222 million (+302%).

Despite the strong figures, Famous Brands noted that Covid-19 has forced restaurants to adapt quickly and changed the way consumers experience dining.

“Some of these shifts include the adoption of contactless technology, a rise in takeaway and delivery sales, a preference for outdoor dining, adjusted staffing levels, and menu rationalisation,” it said.

“Trading activity remains muted due to Covid-19 restrictions related to sit-down dining, travel, seated capacity, trading times and alcohol sales. Research indicates that fear of contracting Covid-19 is a first or second barrier to consumers eating at a sit-down restaurant. This has led to a dramatic rise in takeaway and delivery channels.”

Famous Brands noted that consumers remain under financial pressure in most markets, and many can no longer eat out or increasingly seek value purchases. It added that as consumers work from home, they tend to cut back on the frequency of eating at casual dining restaurants.

The group said that it was responding to consumer trends to draw foot traffic and boost revenues in the following ways:

  • Re-engineering menus to simplify restaurant operations and ensure high-quality takeaway products;
  • Keeping menu price increases below food inflation and focusing on value for money propositions;
  • Reduced trading hours has required a renewed focus on breakfast and lunch promotions;
  • Embracing take away and delivery, including curbside pick-up, own delivery, third-party delivery, order ahead options and increasing drive-through capacity;
  • Reassuring customers regarding our stringent Covid-19 health and safety protocols;
  • Maintaining the highest brand and quality standards to offer a superior customer experience.

4. Elections to be highly contested:

The upcoming local government elections will be the most vigorously contested in decades, as local community-led groups have sprung up around the country to challenge incumbent councillors seen as enablers of the breakdown of governance across the country.

One of these is the Setsoto Service Delivery Forum (SSDF) which is fielding 17 candidates in the Eastern Free State, in an area that encompasses the rural towns of Ficksburg, Clocolan, Senekal and Marquard.

These towns are ANC strongholds that may be in danger of falling to new political forces now gusting through the province by highly energised opposition candidates with plenty of ammunition with which to club the incumbents.

Other groups have sprouted in Qwaqwa, in Maluti a Phofung Municipality in the Free State, and in Parys, also in the Free State.

Selloane Lephoi, SSDF spokesperson, says the reason for the emergence of these localised rebellions is citizen fatigue at watching their municipalities being drained of funds and skills as politically-connected individuals made fortunes from corrupt deals at ratepayer expense.

“We are going to win this election,” she says without hesitation.

“We know this because we’ve been to 90% of the households in our areas, and we have been listening to what people are saying. They are fed up with corruption, at having no water, broken sewage pipes and potholes. They want basic services, and they want economic opportunities.”

The SSDF cuts across race, class and profession.

Whites and blacks have found common cause in the campaign to bring back good governance to the local municipality. The SSDF public meetings have drawn an enthusiastic crowd eager for real change. Lephoi says there’s no question the ANC is about to be routed. “What we have to watch is that the election is not stolen, and we have put plans in place to make sure this does not happen.”

“Voter apathy is what got us into this mess, and this has got to be stopped now.”

5. Matrics start finals today:

The country’s almost 900,000 matriculants are heading into their final National Senior Certificate exams on Wednesday morning and some have told Eyewitness News that they were feeling “anxious but positive”.

They’ll kickstart the National Senior Certificate exams with an English paper.

The class of 2021 is the second group of grade 12s that will sit for their finals during the pandemic and officials have promised tighter controls after two exam papers were leaked last year.

The constant adjustments that matriculants have had to make have prompted calls for more support for them as they navigate some of the toughest times in their schooling careers.

The Basic Education Department said that it was better prepared for the matric final exams this year as a result of lessons learned from 2020.

Deputy Basic Education Minister Dr Reginah Mhaule discussed their readiness plans.

“With the lesson learned from last year, we are more than ready, we are prepared – all the schools prepared centres for isolation so if they discover that a learner is positive, that a leaner will not be disadvantaged to write the examination.”

All information sourced from articles posted by: Fin24, BusinessTech, Business Insider, Moneyweb, and EWN.

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