Sorghum beer has emerged as a flourishing industry in Africa, and Malawi is no exception. One of the key players in the country’s sorghum beer market is Chibuku Products Ltd (CPL), which has achieved remarkable success in partnership with packaging supplier Nampak Malawi. With a market share of 99%, CPL is the leading producer of sorghum beer in Malawi, making the collaboration with Nampak Malawi a vital component of their intertwined businesses.
A Longstanding Partnership: The partnership between CPL and Nampak Malawi spans over 50 years, with Nampak Malawi serving as CPL’s preferred carton supplier for their products. Chrissy Nyirenda, the commercial manager of Nampak Malawi, highlights the deep connection between the two companies, stating that if CPL sneezes, Nampak catches a cold. This underscores the strength and significance of their business relationship.
The Rise of Carton Packaging: Nampak Malawi’s conical carton packaging solution for CPL’s fresh sorghum beer product, Chibuku Shake Shake, garnered recognition as a finalist at the AfriStar 2022 Awards. Nyirenda reveals that during a trial period, CPL had experimented with returnable plastic bottles as an alternative to cartons, driven by the desire to reduce packaging costs. However, the trial faced unforeseen challenges and received negative feedback from customers.
Customer Preferences Matter: The trial’s low sales and negative customer feedback prompted CPL to reevaluate their packaging choice. Listening to the market, CPL realized that customers preferred the familiar carton packaging for Chibuku Shake Shake. Nyirenda emphasizes the impact of consumer perception on the decision to revert to carton packaging. Since the reintroduction of cartons in 2020, the turnaround has been overwhelmingly positive, with brewery sales reaching all-time record highs.
The Suitability of Carton Packaging: Shaun du Plessis, the managing director of Nampak Zambia and Malawi, emphasizes that the conical carton packaging solution has stood the test of time as a fit-for-purpose packaging solution for the sorghum beer industry. Its reliability, durability, and ability to maintain product hygiene have solidified its position as the preferred choice for the industry.
Aligning Packaging with Consumer Preferences: Gerald Bowler, the managing director of CPL, acknowledges the importance of meeting consumer preferences. CPL continues to work closely with Nampak Malawi to ensure they have the best packaging solutions that align with both business interests and consumer needs. The success witnessed in the sorghum beer market highlights the significance of packaging choices that resonate with consumers.
The experience with the returnable bottle experiment has served as a valuable lesson for the industry. Consumer feedback and market demand played a crucial role in CPL’s decision to revert to carton packaging for their Chibuku Shake Shake product. Cartons have proven to be the preferred and sustainable packaging choice for fresh sorghum beer in Malawi, ensuring product hygiene, safety, and consumer satisfaction. The strong partnership between CPL and Nampak Malawi continues to drive the success of the sorghum beer industry in the country.