Chibuku Products introduces new bottle, Malawi imbibers query bottling

Brewers of Malawi’s popular opaque beer, Chibuku Products Limited (CPL), have taken one innovative step ahead by introducing a new one litre bottle.

CPL, a subsidiary of South African’s SABMiller, secretly presented the new disposable plastic bottle first to Blantyre imbibers on New Year’s Day in addition to the age-old one litre cartons and scuds.

However, CPL’s innovation has received mixed reactions from imbibers who are already using the new pack.

While a few appear to have no problem with the innovation, majority have quashed the new product, arguing the company needed to do more work before launching the bottle as it falls short of hygiene standards.

The new Chibuku Scud- photos by Wadyokope Chiwaya

Some imbibers  Nyasa Times found at the famous Kabila Tavern, also known as Zingwangwa, took to task CPL sales team that was delivering the well-liked and cheap “hard stuff” arguing the new bottling system was no different from the old returnable one litre Chibuku Scud.

Issue at hand is that until a few weeks ago, Chibuku Scud had no seal on the “neck” (between the cover and bottle) a development that reportedly resulted in some unscrupulous beer sellers to cunningly open it and drain some beer.

The said thieving traders would then produce two scuds by adding water to the beer to multiply the quantity.

But after a protracted barrage of complainants, CPL finally gave in and started sealing the scuds, which were introduced some six years ago.

And because of this, imbibers feel the new bottles, which also have no safety seals, have been made vulnerable to the cheating beer vendors.

Some patrons told Nyasa Times they had already forwarded, through the tavern chairperson, their disappointment to CPL management over the pack.

They warned that they would boycott the bottle if management does not consider their appeal to have the cover sealed so as to protect the beer from being “polluted”.

“It’s a good innovation from them [CPL] but in the absence of the safety seals it makes everything worthless,” one regular customer at Kabila Tavern told Nyasa Times.

The company’s unveiling of the one litre bottle is seen as a way of sustaining business for the company after it nearly “stopped production” due to scarcity of traditional cartons.

CPL officials told the public the company was failing to meet demand because, just like many other firms, the issue of forex shortage affected their suppliers (of cartons) such that they could not meet the requirement resulting in CPL importing the material from Zimbabwe.

Many consumers became sceptical with the company’s survival after it started importing the cartons bearing the words Keep Zimbabwe clean.

This forced CPL to issue a statement explaining the strange development to Malawians, particularly its customers who enjoy the locally made brew.

“As a result of the shortages, we have been forced to procure some Chibuku cartoons from our sister company in Zimbabwe, Delta Beverages,” read part of the statement which was released by the company’s Corporate Affairs Manager Wiseman Chauluka.

With the introduction of the bottled Chibuku beer, CPL now sells its brand in three different packs which include Chibuku scud and the popular carton.

Apart from Malawi, the country’s popular opaque beer is also brewed and sold by Chibuku sister companies- operating under SABMiller- in Ghana, Mozambique, Swaziland, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Tanzania.

The original and well known Chibuku packet

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