Beer. . . The Drink Of Moderation

Beer is almost always at the heart of a social or special occasion, and is widely regarded as the world’s favourite alcoholic beverage. It dates back to between 7 000 and 10 000 years ago, when the move from nomadic tribesmen to settled pastoralists is said to have resulted in the growing of barley to brew for beer.

Enjoyed by millions of people around the world, beer has been used for thousands of years in spiritual or religious ceremonies and social gatherings. In today’s more recent days, it has become the drink of many a connoisseur, paired with delicious food created by celebrity chefs. It has played a part in elevating the culinary arts by providing a complete experience for the senses.

SAB stands for responsible drinking. We believe that beer adds to the enjoyment of life, but it should never be abused or misused. Those who drink excessively put themselves and those around them at risk, which is something we work hard to prevent.

We are 100% committed to producing and marketing our products responsibly at the same time as engaging with South African society to tackle problematic drinking behaviours.

While research shows that most consumers enjoy alcohol responsibly, there is a relatively small percentage of South Africans who abuse alcohol. The negative impact this minority is having on South African society is disproportionately high. No one benefits from alcohol abuse. What is not good for South African society, is ultimately not good for SAB’s business. We maintain our position at the forefront of the attack on alcohol abuse, investing millions annually into high impact programmes that make a real impact on drinking and driving, Foetal Alcohol Syndrome and underage drinking.

At SAB we are proud of the products we produce, but we take a clear stand when it comes to the consequences of alcohol abuse.

We acknowledge our responsibility as South Africa’s leading alcohol beverage company and the opportunity we have to positively influence social change.

As part of the SABMiller group, these are the six core principles on alcohol which set the standard for our personal and commercial conduct, and guide our commitment to reducing alcohol abuse in South Africa:

  1. Our beer adds to the enjoyment of life for the overwhelming majority of our consumers
  2. We care about the harmful effects of irresponsible alcohol consumption
  3. We engage stakeholders and work collectively with them to address irresponsible consumption
  4. Alcohol consumption is for adults and is a matter of individual judgment and accountability
  5. Information provided to consumers about alcohol consumption should be accurate and balanced
  6. We expect our employees to aspire to high levels of conduct in relation to alcohol consumption

These same six principles are integral to choices we’ve made around the kind of programmes we are investing in. They also shape our approach to partnerships with stakeholders.

A focused, multi-faceted approach

Underpinned by bold new action plans, SAB is determined to combat alcohol abuse with a multi-faceted approach that has a real impact on society and goes beyond just communication and education. The three key dimensions to SAB’s strategy to counteract the negative effects of alcohol abuse are to:

• Lead by example

This starts with our employees. The focus is primarily on a comprehensive understanding of alcohol issues and SAB’s stance when it comes to these issues, a zero-tolerance approach towards driving under the influence of alcohol and ensuring responsible marketing at all times.

Employee alcohol programme

Living the example starts at home base

SAB’s employee alcohol programme falls under one of the three dimensions of our alcohol strategy – Living the Example. Here, we are leveraging internal motivation to make a difference, having found that there is already enthusiasm for driving the reduction in alcohol related issues. Our people, who we consider leaders in their own right, are keen to contribute positively to living the example.

In view of this, we’ve reconfirmed and refined our internal codes of behaviour around alcohol. We believe they are now the most stringent in our industry. For one, there’s a clear policy of zero-tolerance for drunk driving by our employees, which is supported by a sponsored programme to assist employees in getting home when they have consumed alcohol.

To ensure we equip our people with the most up-to-date and relevant information in a quick-change environment, and that we constantly refresh our commitment, every single employee—from the shop floor up to board level— undergo compulsory training annually on responsible alcohol consumption, behaviour and commercial practices. This training is supported by ongoing awareness campaigns and random alcohol testing.

• Champion co-regulation

SAB is boosting resources to build partnerships with government and the industry as ultimately our success in driving real impact in the fight against alcohol abuse relies on a coordinated joint effort involving all key role-players. We are also continuing our drive to advance normalisation of the liquor industry.

• Invest in real impact programmes

SAB’s investment in real impact programmes aimed at changing behaviours and attitudes prioritises drunk driving, Foetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS), Responsible Trading and underage drinking.

Responsible Marketing

Vital to SAB’s strategy is a thorough review of the company’s marketing practices, which includes regular independent evaluation.

Responding to concerns raised by communities around the density of billboards, particularly in areas with high poverty rates and high rates of foetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), we’ve renewed our commitment to removing and/or reducing billboard advertising from areas like these.

We’ve also boosted the prominence of our responsible alcohol message on advertising in line with the recommendations of the Industry Association for Responsible Use of Alcohol (ARA).

Tighter industry advertising regulations

Internally, a number of years ago we instituted an evaluation process where our marketing programmes are scrutinized on a regular basis to ensure we comply with our stringent code of commercial communication (in line with the ARA recommendations) – we have employed the assistance of an independent external expert to be the deciding judge.

Encouraged by the response of our stakeholders and the support we’ve received from our industry counterparts through the ARA, we know that what we are doing is meaningful.

Respecting non-drinkers and minors

We respect the choice of non-drinkers and are committed to not exerting any form of pressure or influence to alter individual choice. We will also not engage in practices that can be construed in any way as driving the recruitment of those below the legal drinking age.

These issues have been policy in our business for some time and we hold ourselves to stringent account where these are concerned.

Fransen Street Brewery

SAB has produced a small number of speciality beers at craft festivals that have since been brewed by Fransen Street Brewery, our microbrewery that was first opened in 1999. The beers have been developed to the highest quality by our expert brewmasters, and have been welcomed by both consumers and retailers. SAB has placed our 15 years of experience in brewing speciality beers into these recipes, which are offered to an exclusive and limited number of outlets in Gauteng. Due to their limited production, these beers will continue to be exclusive, more expensive and a delightful experience for those who are exploring the beer category and culture in South Africa.

Craft Beer Movement

SAB has a soft spot for craft brewers and the craft beer movement, as our own story began in much the same way. We fully support the growth of this movement through the supply of raw materials and delivery of expertise to the microbreweries.

We were the first major sponsors of the majority of craft beer festivals around the country, helping to propel the craft movement into the mainstream. We facilitated and funded the establishment of the Craft Beer Association and are proud to sponsor the premier Craft Brewers Championship, which is hosted by our heritage centre, The World of Beer. We believe that craft beer provides an interest factor to beer that mainstream products can never do. Pulling more people into beer is a positive move for all players in the beer industry.

World-Class Brewers

We are committed to bringing quality beers to South Africa, and we ensure the success of this commitment through the country’s most highly-trained, skilled and experienced brewers. Their workmanship might even be the best in the world and their dedication to brewing excellent beers of the highest standard is always unwavering.

SAB is all about beer in South Africa – of this, there is no doubt. This position is one we are proud of and a legacy we aim to protect.

SAB Real Impact Programmes

Our programmes go beyond communication and education. They are designed to change behaviour, ensuring a sustainable shift, discouraging abuse by sobering consumers up to the serious consequences of alcohol abuse—striking a balance between inspiring people to do the right thing, encouraging self-regulation, and supporting enforcement.

Responsible Trader Programme

In 2011, SAB launched its Responsible Trader Programme (RTP), a high impact and holistic approach to engaging liquor traders on alcohol abuse and the harm it causes communities. A first of its kind in South Africa, the programme actively position the liquor trader as a champion in the fight against alcohol abuse and highlights the importance of trading responsibly to ensure the sustainability of the businesses of liquor traders.

Some of the issues dealt with in the programme include intoxicated customers, underage drinking, drinking and driving and pregnant women and drinking.

SAB developed the RTP in response to our deep concern about the harm alcohol abuse can cause to individuals, families and communities. Its objective is to encourage self-regulation amongst traders by creating awareness of the social, health and economic consequences of irresponsible trading. Added to the devastating impact of alcohol abuse on communities and individuals, irresponsible traders face tough consequences for their behaviour, including the potential loss of their trading license and in turn, a loss in income.

SAB believes that the most effective way to address alcohol abuse is through targeted interventions, such as the Responsible Trader Programme, which focus on those drinking patterns that are associated with harm. Proven approaches include improved education, good enforcement and strong self-regulation. These are approaches that SAB seeks to drive through its ongoing alcohol strategy, on which the company has spent more than R100-million since its inception in 2009.

To date more than 13 700 liquor traders have been exposed to the programme.  More than 7000 traders have taken part in survey assessments following the training sessions to determine programme impact with 81% of traders scoring more than 80% on the assessment.

To read more, go to: A Sociable World

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