Sechaba Brewery Holdings Limited said its associate company, Coca-Cola Beverages Botswana is rethinking its recipes to reduce sugar as the business moves to make low and no-sugar drink versions customers love, easier to find on the shelves.
This comes on the backdrop of the World Health Organisation’s current recommendation that consumers should limit their intake of added sugar to no more than 10% of their total energy consumption.
Presenting the group’s 2020 annual report, Sechaba Brewery managing director, Thabo Matthews said during the year under review, Coke without sugar was a priority pack and the focus area for 2020, and grew 18% as availability was improved across channels.
“We ran exciting promotions in the fourth quarter that extended into the first quarter of 2021. These provided great engagement with brand Coke in a festive period in the year,” he said.
Matthews added they are shifting some of their marketing budgets to make consumers more aware of these low and no-sugar options. “We are exploring and bringing to market new sugar alternatives that help us keep the great tastes people love, but with less sugar and fewer calories,” he said.
“No matter what, we are fully committed to helping consumers better control the amount of sugar they get from our drinks without giving up the great tastes they know and love.”
According to Sechaba, sparkling soft drink sales declined only by 0.2 percent in 2019 with brand Coke showing great resilience growing marginally in 2020.
Earlier this year, government announced plans to introduce the sugar tax in the current financial year as part of measures to restore fiscal stability in the face of mounting budget deficits.
Meanwhile, another company which Sechaba is a shareholder in, Kgalagadi Breweries Limited (KBL), suspended the Kickstart programme for the year under review as a result of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the business. The budget allocated to the youth development programme was redirected to aid the government’s COVID-19 response.
As of the end of 2020, Kickstart had trained 350 young people in Business Skills and funded 85 businesses, 70% of which are still operational and thriving. Aligned with the government’s Citizen Economic Empowerment policy to increase the participation of Batswana in economic activities, Kickstart is a youth entrepreneurial development programme for youth aged between 18 and 40.
Founded in 2004, the programme enables eligible youths wanting to start or expand their businesses to win grants ranging from P10,000 to P200,000, receive fundamental entrepreneurial skills training, as well as mentoring for a period of 12 months.