KBL’s Clear Beer Sales in Decline Amid Market Shift 

  • Own FABs causes 5.5% decline in KBL’s Clear Beer market
  • But St Louis continues to grow despite drop in clear beer market
  • Brutal Fruit up by triple digits, Flying Fish 10.7% YoY
  •  Creatives’ “Hype the Homegrown” due for robust rollout this year


The Clear Beer category at Kgalagadi Breweries Limited (KBL) experienced a 5.5 percent decline in 2023 compared to the previous year.

According to KBL Managing Director, Carlos Bernitt, in Sechaba Brewery Holding’s (SBHL) 2023 Annual Report, the decline is attributable to a market shift towards FABs (Flavoured Alcoholic Beverages) or the Beyond Beer category of KBL products.

But despite this shift, KBL maintained its market share in the Clear Beer category. “Premium brands continued to grow despite the challenges in the clear beer market, with a growth of 9.6 percent compared to the previous year and three times more compared to 2019,” Bernitt said.

Reduction over winter

He noted that the Core category declined by 5.0 percent compared to the previous year but grew by 7.0 percent compared to 2019, with a particularly tough second quarter driven by demand reduction over winter and the impact of a price increase.

Bernitt highlighted specific brands within the Clear Beer category, stating: “Carling Black Label declined by 1.3 percent compared to the previous year, while St. Louis continues to grow despite the challenges in the clear beer market.”

The Beyond Beer category showed significant growth. “The Beyond Beer category grew by 36.9 percent compared to the previous year and by 43.6 percent compared to 2019,” Bernitt reported.

Brutal Fruit 

He credited this growth primarily to Brutal Fruit, which was introduced in late 2022. “Brutal Fruit grew by triple digits compared to the previous year, and Flying Fish grew by 10.7 percent compared to the previous year,” he noted.

There were some challenges within the Beyond Beer category as well. “Though Redds Vodka Lemon declined again by 14.9 percent due to stock supply issues and a mediocre performance in the first half of the year, the decline was less significant than in previous years, indicating the brand continues to maintain a relevant presence in the market, which can be attributed to its latest look and feel,” Bernitt explained.

The introduction of new products also contributed to KBL’s success. “The significant growth in Brutal Fruit shows that the market continues to warmly welcome this brand,” he added. “Additionally, KBL introduced Flying Fish Dry Apple, which was also well received by the market and continues to grow.”

Cultural impact 

Bernitt also emphasised the cultural impact of local brands. “Botswana’s very own beer, St Louis Lager, continued to showcase the depth and diversity of the local creative industry with the launch of the Hype the Homegrown campaign,” he said. “As part of this campaign, St Louis Lager was a main sponsor for the 8th Annual Yarona FM Awards.

“This was a significant step in recognising and promoting local creative talent. With the tagline of ‘Hype the Homegrown,’ the brand was on a mission to shift perspective by highlighting the economic contributions of local creatives and export potential. The campaign is slated for a robust rollout featuring local creatives in 2024.”

Sechaba, one of the shareholders in KBL, has been listed on the Botswana Stock Exchange since 1989. The company has a history of financial capitalism and wealth creation. Prior to 2018, Sechaba’s sole investment was in KBL.


However, in 2018, KBL was restructured by separating the net assets of its Non-Alcoholic-Ready-To-Drink (NARTD) business, which eventually formed Coca Cola Beverages (Botswana) (Proprietary) Limited (CCBB).

Sechaba now holds a 49.90 percent shareholding in KBL, with Anheuser Busch InBev (AB InBev) holding the remaining shares. Sechaba also holds 49.90 percent in CCBB, with Coca-Cola Beverages Africa holding the balance.