Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Alvaro to grace Ugandan shelves before 2008 ends

After successfully testing the Kenyan market, Alvaro a new non-alcoholic drink will be launched in Uganda as its second market, an official at East African Breweries Limited (EABL) said.

Patricia Ithau, managing director of EABL Venture, which is producing the soft drink said Alvaro will be unveiled to Ugandans, in a few weeks. The fruity brand which will be made available in 330ml green bottles, is only available in Kenya.

“It is our hope that before the end of the year, Alvaro will roll out in more markets but more particular in this market,” said Ithau. EABL is the name behind the regions popular brands including Uganda Waragi, Bell, Tusker, Senator and Pilsner Lager- a source at the company said the drink is likely to be in Uganda by October.

Alvaro was launched in its pilot market, in March this year targeting high-end adult consumers. A member of the Kenyan Parliament recently alleged that Alvaro contained alcohol, however EABL has since denied the allegation and the Kenya Bureau of Standards has since given the product a clean bill of health through two tests conducted early this year and another one in July, according to the Daily Nation newspaper in Kenya.

EABL's competitors have also been accused of triggering off a saga in which Alvaro has been accused of being alcoholic as opposed to its specifications, but they have denied the claim. Since its launch, the drink which is retailed at Kshs25 (Shs600) in comparison with Coke and Pepsi Cola's Kshs17 (Shs408), has already sold more than eight million bottles, beating its target of nine million, by the end of the year.

But as Alvaro seeks to deepen its footprint in East Africa, Century Bottling Company the producers of Coca Cola in Uganda, have also officially launched their flagship mineral water brand, Dasani. The brand has been in the market for about two years now and is expected to seriously vie for a greater market share in the water sector. The sector currently has more than players including, Wavah Water, Aqua Sipi, Highland, Rwenzori water among others.

The introduction of Alvaro in Uganda could also weaken the market bases of the local softdrink makers in the coming months- if they don't strengthen their marketing strategies.

Alvaro's creation was also driven by demand for an alternative non-natural drink, from the market. According to the company's research, in their markets, only 20% of adult consumers subscribe to alcoholic drinks and yet, 80% don't. “We want to tap into this big opportunity out there whose needs have not been met,” Ithau said.