Archive for May, 2008

DIGIVU- Dave Harcourt’s Blogs Combined · Sacrificing for Food Science

May 20, 2008

DIGIVU- Dave Harcourt’s Blogs Combined · Sacrificing for Food Science

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Obama Larger

May 13, 2008

While the article links Kenyan beer to Senator Obama (the son of a Kenyan) now running as presidential candidate of the US, it is of more interest for information on selling alcoholic beverages to consumers at the bottom of the pyramid

In Kenya, _Obama beer_ is suddenly popular.jpg

from: San Francisco Chronicle
(click image for full story online)


Consumers nicknaming Senator beer, brewed by East African Breweries Limited, Obama is a local thing and unlikely to have made any significant difference to sales. The brewers do not use it in their marketing, but say there has been some increase in sales in Obama’s father’s homeland, especially after Obama’s 2006 visit.

Of interest, though, is the origin of Senator beer and its place in the alcoholic beverage market of Kenya. What makes it different is that it is sold at 40 cents a glass compared to normal beers costing $1 to $3 a bottle. In a country where more than half the population earn less than a dollar a day its the only beer that is affordable to many.

It’s low price is achieved through saving the packaging costs by dispensing in bulk (1 000l a day in a bar) and by the fact that there is no excise tax on Senator beer.

The tax excise exemption is an attempt to address the dangers of illegal brews that are focussed on the poor consumer.

According to the article

A 2003 brewery study found that 55 percent of alcohol consumed in Kenya is homemade. Known as changaa or busaa, these spirits contain up to 40 percent alcohol and are often mixed with battery acid or formaldehyde to increase potency. At 25 cents a glass, these popular alternatives to more expensive beer are also known as “kill me quick.”

In 2000, 150 Kenyans died and hundreds were hospitalized from drinking a toxic brew in a slum near Nairobi, sparking calls for the government to crack down on the thousands of bootleg distilleries. Another 50 died in 2005, the latest statistics available. Many more have been blinded from these drinks.

A similar situation exists in South Africa and I suspect many Southern and East African countries.

In South Africa there seems to be less distillation but “fall over quickly” is popular! and adulteration is widespread. Before democracy in South Africa this was addressed by strict policing and possibly needs to be reevaluated now. With much of the homebrew being traditional beer based in South Africa, my personal suggestion would be to promote a homebrew quality ranking system and educate the user on alcohol usage.

In Kenya the brewers took the initiative

The brewery did away with bottles and packaging for Senator beer, using 13 gallon kegs. Each day, the company ships 8,500 kegs throughout the nation, and plans to expand output since it can’t keep up with demand.

Popularity is growing due to a heavy marketing campaign in the slums, where underground bars still sell homemade spirits.

The following points are probably important to sales at the Bottom of the Pyramid:

  • replacing normal consumer packaging can significantly reduce cost
  • there is normally a price where consumers will switch from the cheapest product for other benefits
  • taxes can effect consumer consumption patterns

Salty Ice Cream

May 5, 2008

Many years ago Monty Python had a sound bite on a crisp factory that sold salt and vinegar ice and crispy bacon ice creams – it was counter posed by a shop that sold strawberry flavoured chips!

But now its for real and not a joke!

Häagen-Dazs® | Products | Häagen-Dazs Reserve™ Series | Fleur de Sel Caramel.jpg

from: Häagen-Dazs
(click image for full story online)


Its described as:

Fleur de Sel caramels covered in a chocolaty coating blended into caramel ice cream with caramel ribbons and French sea salt accents. Crisp, salty nuances harmonize with rich, creamy caramel for the ultimate combination of sweet and salty.

I look forward to tasting it, but wonder where? my family would be conceptually opposed to the mixture of sweet and salty.

What is interesting about this is the focus on tastes linked to foreign countries. This ties in with some on my previous blogs on Trends and some foods I’m seeing in France. Maybe with a mobile and frequently holidaying population products from far away countries have an appeal – even if the flavour is not strictly a flavour of the country. The consumer’s taste and marketing needs over rule the local flavour profile and become a concept. Amarula Cream is a classic example of this – more about this one day perhaps.