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Beer consumption in Africa today is by far the lowest in the world, at about 10 liters of beer per capita, compared with 70 liters in North America and Western Europe. However, it is the fastest-expanding market and more profitable than other emerging economies in Eastern Europe and Asia, according to Bernstein. As drinkers in Europe and the U. Still, the African market remains unpredictable for multinational companies hoping to build a long-lasting business, analysts say.

For Diageo, sales increases in Ghana were offset by declines in Cameroon because of social unrest and Ethiopia because of political instability and currency devaluation. In Zimbabwe, hyperinflation has led to a beer shortage because brewers were unable to obtain enough dollars to import packaging materials. The next year, the government reversed its decision, choosing instead to increase taxes on premium brands in the market that were less price sensitive. Senator volumes doubled. Dickens Tugume, a plumber sipping on a bottle of Chibuku, said he switched to the brand two years ago to cut on down on personal costs.

In Nigeria, brews with returnable bottles like Satzenbrau sell for naira 28 cents.

Write to Julie Wernau at Julie. Wernau wsj. Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr.

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Saturday Sep 28th. P utting up a high-profile beer company to market its beer seems to be an easy task for this Philippine-born businessman. Bamboo beer is set to launch on July 13 at Yonge-Dundas Square with promises of fanfare and some hoopla. Little would the people know that the bluster is being had at practically no expense from the beer makers. It's a free-for-all, meaning the beer is being introduced in a free public event almost without cost to the trumpeting owner and his investors.

What a freebie! F acile est inventis addere.

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I find it relevant to quote here, mainly because of an experience I will never forget. Rita, Pampanga, Philippines. When he expresses gratitude, he does so profusely with ounces upon ounces of "God bless you". One feels a certain blessedness hearing him like a priest exhorting the gospel of truth.

He looks ordinary despite a mild display of affluence in a gold necklace dangling from his neck. For sometime during our first meeting I had the impression that he was effeminate. The thought soon vanished, however, upon seeing his wife and children. I first encountered this guy in mid-November at his home in Stoney Creek, Ontario, through the couple Mon Torralba and Teresa Torralba who had taken an interest to help him in his business venture - the manufacture of bamboo beer and its distribution wherever it may be allowed.

Bringing me to meet with him was obviously intended to size up the man and his claim to have "invented" what he had proclaimed as Canada's, or the world's, first bamboo beer. And from there, write paeans of prose and videos about how good he was, or how fortunate Filipinos are for having such a creative person in their midst. I did all those actually, having been convinced about the soundness of his claims and the integrity of his person. That was my big mistake.


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The journalist in me had seized my curiosity. I set aside some doubts, favoring the Torralba couple who I believed would not put me in a situation where my commitment to journalism would be jeopardized. So I acquiesced on their say-so, and conducted the interview. Our conversation was confined to bamboo beer and occasionally drifted to personal stories about his family, his background and professional business. I soon learned that he's into house construction - buying dilapidated houses, remodelling them and putting them on the market once done.

In California, they're called slum lord. Bamboo was one of the tools of his business, using it for landscaping and in some instances, exploiting it for wood. How he came up with the idea of squeezing beer from bamboo was not really his original. The Chinese have been manufacturing beer from the grass since they have an abundance of bamboo. So the assertion that he invented bamboo beer is not entirely accurate. The likelihood is that he took a fancy to the brew upon learning from a San Diego, California, beer dealer that it's not being distributed in Canada - or so it seems - unless the contrary is proved.

This dealer told me by phone that he could not remember Villanis by name since his inquiry was made in However, in June , the two again exchanged emails wherein Villanis was already boasting that he was "launching North America's discovered and inspired bamboo beer". Had I not stayed for almost three months in London, England and Germany starting in July , my introduction to him would have been sooner than our November meeting. I knew he was aching to announce his alleged breakthrough. The effort is largely a freebie by the Torralbas for what is billed as a company with topnotch investors.

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Villanis is positioning himself and his beer as bigger than life. In reality he's pressed for money - that's what I'm told. He has evaded the question of paying for the first initial foray that I undertook on behalf of his bamboo beer though I do not have millions to speak of in the first place. I have exerted all efforts to endure this," he writes in an email response. That's plain admission, in other words, that he does not have the wherewithal to market his product, let alone produce it, except to rely on the good graces of friends.

He should connect with some Toronto couples who are expert in raising money from the public, if I may suggest that. So, after so much talk about his sacrifices, etcetera, he's impliedly suggesting that such work as the one I did also be another freebie.