UCB, READY FOR QUALITY PACKAGING
By WHALEN KADJI
Technical Developpement Director
On the booming beer market in Cameroon one local brewery isn’t simply out to make a few fast bucks – or francs – but is instead going for sustainability, high-quality products and future-proof technology. We are here talking about UCB. This strategy is proving extremely successful and has (almost) made the company the market leader in key cities.
Rapid urbanization and a fast-growing middle class are turning large swathes of the African continent into a dynamic market that holds great potential. With their sales markets in North America and Europe stagnating or declining, this is something international breweries are especially profiting from and where they see new opportunities. Consumption is rising every year by 5%; in 2015 experts from the Deutsche Bank already forecasted more than a third of the growth in worldwide beer by 2025.
With regards to our home beer market the returnable glass bottle definitely has the lion’s share. PET have enjoyed a rise in popularity in conjunction with carbonated soft drinks and water for some time now. Unfortunately, we don’t yet have a bottle-to-bottle recycling system here. At the moment plastic bottles are merely pressed, shredded and sent to a PET materials manufacturer. In view of their rapidly increasing use and the subsequent growing amount of plastic waste, the PET recycling process needs to become established in our region. Cans and kegs made of aluminum could be an alternative to this material but at present this is still a very small segment, albeit one that’s growing. This is based on the premise that these containers are made locally, however. Cameroon needs to catch up here.
Plastic and especially PET waste is indeed a big problem. We do have a few state regulations and levies in place but they have very little impact. One major reason for this is, for example, that empty PET bottles are often reused for a totally different purposes, although there are repeated warnings not to do so. For the Kadji Group, which UCB is part of, the protection of the environment is a high priority. We’ve thus entered into partnership with a number of startups that invest in PET recycling. Among them is a company that makes school bags and pencil cases from recycled PET and another that presses and bundles returned bottles and sends them to recyclers in Europe. We’re also planning on building our own recycling plant in the near future. PET is a great opportunity for the African market. After all, we all want to act sustainably.
We’ve been in the beverage industry in Cameroon and Central Africa for almost half a century now. We’ll continue to supply high-quality products and act sustainably in the future, too. In maintaining and intensifying relationships with our business partners, we’ll continue to grow and at the same time reduce the negative impact of our line of business on the environment. Dealing with Covid-19 has heightened our awareness of the future opportunities that exist across the entire continent.