No Price Increase for Beer in Cameroon

No Price Increase for Beer in Cameroon: Minister of Commerce Proposes Sector Overhaul

In a significant decision, the Minister of Commerce of Cameroon, Luc Magloire Mbarga Atangana, announced on May 16, 2024, that there would be no increase in beer prices.

This decision followed an extensive four-hour meeting involving representatives from the Syndicat national des distributeurs de boissons hygiéniques du Cameroun (Synasdibohycam), the Syndicat national des exploitants des débits de boissons du Cameroun (Synedeboc), consumer rights associations, and officials from the Ministry of Territorial Administration.

During the meeting, various challenges facing the brewing industry were discussed, highlighting the urgent need for a comprehensive restructuring of the sector. Minister Mbarga Atangana emphasized the importance of this reorganization, especially in light of the upcoming liberalization of trade within the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). He warned that without necessary reforms, significant portions of the production and distribution sectors could face collapse.

Distributors raised concerns about additional operational costs, while retailers pointed out issues with product availability and heavy taxation impacting their businesses. The Minister acknowledged these issues and promised to address them in a broader meeting with relevant administrative bodies scheduled for next month. He stressed that price concerns are interconnected with various other factors and should not be addressed in isolation.

Despite the industry’s push for price increases—citing rising production costs over the past five years due to inflation in raw materials, consumables, fuel, gas, electricity, taxes, and salaries—the government has maintained the current prices. This move was welcomed by consumers, reflecting a responsible and inclusive dialogue among all stakeholders.

No Beer Price Increase in Cameroon: Government Holds Firm Amid Industry Pressure

Luc Magloire Mbarga Atangana pointed out that since the last official price hike in 2019, continuous demands for price adjustments have been made without success. The brewing giant, Société anonyme des boissons du Cameroun (SABC), which holds 80% of the market share, indicated that unofficial price increases have already occurred, but these have not uniformly benefited the sector or the producers. For instance, the recommended price for a 65 cl beer bottle is 650 FCFA, but it is now nearly impossible to purchase it for less than 700 FCFA, except for takeaways.

The Minister reiterated the necessity for a complete overhaul of the brewing sector to prepare for future challenges related to the AfCFTA. Without this essential reorganization, the economic repercussions could be severe, potentially leading to the downfall of key segments within the production and distribution chains.

This decision to freeze beer prices, favorably received by consumers, underscores the government’s commitment to balancing economic interests with consumer protection. The upcoming expanded meeting will aim to develop long-term solutions to ensure the sustainability and growth of Cameroon’s brewing industry amidst evolving market dynamics.

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Sources: Information for this article was gathered from discussions held during the meeting chaired by Minister Luc Magloire Mbarga Atangana and insights from industry stakeholders.

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