SAB Announces Bold Plan To Tackle Alcohol Abuse
The South African Breweries (SAB) today announced an innovative plan of action that will see SAB taking the lead in tackling alcohol abuse in South Africa.
Addressing a group of journalists at a briefing in Johannesburg, SAB MD and Chairman, Norman Adami, said that the company was proud of the quality products that it produced and the economic and social benefits that it brought to South Africa, but that he and the company were concerned at the way in which alcohol was being abused.
Adami commented: “Beer has been around for over 6 000 years and plays an important role in society. For over a century SAB has proudly produced superior products that have been at the centre of social unity and celebration. Our business has a tangible economic impact on the South Africa economy and contribution to the fiscus. We are unashamedly proud of that.”
“However, a small percentage of South Africans abuse alcohol and this has a disproportionately negative impact on South African society. We view this as completely unacceptable. Because if something is not good for South Africa, then it is ultimately not good for our business. Alcohol abuse remains high in this country and it’s clear just how damaging the implications of this abuse can be to society.”
He continued, “A key thrust of our business strategy focuses on taking the bold actions required to make sure that we fulfil our traditional role as one of South Africa’s most socially progressive companies. The first step of that process was the announcement of our recent BBBEE transaction which we believe will be distinctly effective in helping deliver the true intentions of black economic empowerment. Today we are announcing a second major step – the launch of a new multi-faceted effort to combat alcohol abuse and its negative effects on society.”
Commenting that the strategy was a continuation of decades of work to address irresponsible consumption, he said that the company will be building on this strong foundation by investing further in a number of high profile programmes. The new programmes will tackle drinking and driving, Foetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) and underage drinking. The new programmes were based on a thorough review that indicated the need for targeted actions which go beyond communications and education. SAB’s announced alcohol initiatives will include the following:
- In October, Transport Month, SAB will launch, in conjunction with local and provincial law enforcement, the first of a number of Alcohol Evidence Centres, which will have cutting edge equipment and facilities aimed at assisting in enforcement and prosecution of drunk drivers.
- A hard hitting advertising campaign will be launched in October to raise awareness of drink driving issues.
- Also in October, SAB will unveil a new NGO partnership aimed at addressing FAS issues in problem areas in the Western and Northern Cape through a series of prevention and education initiatives.
- A new commercial code of good practice for working with trade partners and customers has also been launched, which will aim to drive more responsible trading practices (for example, not selling to minors).
- Significant attention has also gone to the company’s marketing practices which, working alongside existing initiatives, will include a new commitment to removal of billboard advertising from areas of high abuse
The comprehensive action plan taps into the considerable energy that SAB employees have displayed on this issue and increases the company’s focus on employee practices, including updated policies around drink driving and random alcohol testing. The company’s intention is to set the highest standards of example.
“We know that our first responsibility is to set our own house in order and we are aiming to lead by example, beginning with our employees” commented Dr Vincent Maphai, Executive Director of Corporate Affairs and Transformation.
“When we combine our investment against this programme with our enterprise development and corporate social responsibility efforts, SAB will now be one of, if not the largest, corporate investors in community and social upliftment in South Africa”.
In formulating its strategy SAB also expressed a commitment to championing co-regulation and normalisation of the liquor industry. Increased resources are being invested in supporting industry regulators, the licensing process and self regulation within the industry.
“We are South Africa’s leading alcoholic beverage company and we have the responsibility to lead the attack on alcohol abuse. We have a business uniquely equipped to do so and we must look at making real, sustainable impact, focusing on helping the innocent, who are most often the victims of alcohol abuse. We recognise the importance of reaching a balance between inspiring people to do the right thing, encouraging self regulation and supporting enforcement” Dr Vincent Maphai continued.
“We have years of experience in leading the way in addressing alcohol abuse in the country. This programme takes it a step further. We have listened to the response from local communities and we have developed a strategy to tackle alcohol abuse that takes its learnings from home and from around the world, which we believe is truly distinctive. We intend to make a real impact and drive real change,” he added.