Kasapreko: Leading Alcoholic Beverage Company in Ghana

Richard Adjei (Biography) describes Kasapreko – a beverage company, acting in the alcoholic drinks segment, that was founded in Accra in 1989. The company is responsible for the conceptualization, research, design and development of the first scientifically formulated, herbal-based alcoholic beverage in Ghana.

Interview with Richard Adjei, Deputy Managing Director of Kasapreko

Richard Adjei

What kind of beverages does Kasapreko produce?

Kasapreko started in 1989 and we are currently 24 years old. When we reach 25 years in 2014 we are planning to go global. So that’s one of our goals – we intend to be one of the biggest companies in Africa.

Currently, Kasapreko Company is one of the biggest beverage companies in Ghana and our main products are spirits. We produce spirits with herbal functions in them. We don’t only produce spirits that you drink without gaining any benefit from, we infuce herbs that are researched by the Centre for Scientific Research into Plant Medicine, an affiliate of the World Health Organization. All these herbs are very potent and they help the body with many medicinal qualities. Alomo Bitters, an authentic herbal based bitters, is our flagship product. That is the sector that Kasapreko operates in. Kasapreko also produces gin, whiskey, brandy and some non-alcoholic drinks, currently mixers.

Who are you competing with on a global scale?

Kasapreko competes with both local companies over here in Ghana, and also international companies. When we go outside our country we also meet a lot of local companies, that compete with us in Nigeria and South Africa. We meet them and we also meet with bigger companies who have more international clout, and we try to compete with them based on our interesting products, which are more herbal based. So that’s how we face competition.

Are there any competitors who also do herbal drinks in other places?

Kasapreko products

Yes, there are other companies that do herbal drinks but our company is the only company that has been certified by the Centre for Scientific Research into Plant Medicine. And in Ghana, our flagship product Alomo Bitters, holds over 50% of the spirits market and continue to be the fastest growing alcoholic beverage brand in Ghana and Nigeria.

What does the certification provide you with? What does it guarantee?

The certification guarantees the quality of the product and the source of the product. All the herbal plants we put in are quality-tested and it is proven that they give a lot of medicinal benefits to the body.

Can you give us some examples of the benefits?

We have more than six herbal plants in the products and they improve blood circulation and can also be used for malaria treatment purposes. The product also has an aphrodisiac plant in it.

How do you make people know about this very interesting product?

Alomo Bitters is a product that sells by itself. We say that our best customers are quality officers. They go out, they drink and they tell their friends the benefits and quality of Alomo Bitters, so the product is growing by word of mouth. We do not only do commercials and adverts on the radio, but we actually sell our products by the word of mouth – people go out and try the product and actually accept the benefits it gives. Our consumers are our sales men.

Kasapreko beverages

What are the major challenges you face?

I would say the major challenge we face in Ghana is that our company imports a lot of raw materials, especially for the packaging materials and the ethanol, so it is a challenge for us in terms of the supply chain.

Is there any way to eliminate this challenge?

Yes, that can be changed if there are more local companies that are investing in industry and manufacturing. Let’s see, currently in Ghana we have no companies manufacturing glass, so we have to import our glass and our cups from other countries, some from Asia, some from Europe. We also import our ethanol from Brazil and South Africa. So if there are other businessmen interested in Ghana who can invest in glass and other raw materials that direct or indirectly affects us, such investments would really help us and the country.

So this is one of the local investment opportunities in Ghana. Yet what are the challenges of marketing your product abroad?

It is a challenge to sell our products, and especially bitters, to people who are not from Ghana – or who are not from Africa at all – because some of the people don’t know any African people or any Ghanaians or Nigerians who could introduce and recommend our products such us Alomo Bitters to them. But once anyone tries them, they will always ask for more. Currently we are embarking to advertise more on international platforms to globalize the Alomo Bitters brand.

Can you describe what bitters are?

Kasapreko factory

Basically, bitters is gin with herbal plants that have medicinal qualities. So you are not only drinking gin, you are drinking gin with medicinal qualities.

Where is it brewed?

All our products are currently produced in Ghana. Our factory is equipped with 2 state of the art Krones lines. Our 40,000 PET bottles per hour line is known to be the fasted spirit line ever installed and we also have a 30,000 Glass line from Krones. There are future plans to set up production plants in Nigeria and other African countries.

Are there other countries in Africa that have bitters, not necessarily produced by your company?

There are other bitters, but not the same bitters as Kasapreko produces. In Ghana, there used to be bitters that were non-alcoholic and people also used to make their own concoctions and mixes in their houses, but Kasapreko actually started doing bitters on a more commercial basis.

Are your exports mainly focused on the alcoholic drinks sector or are you going to be exporting also non-alcoholic products and some soda?

We are not only looking at the alcoholic market; we are also looking at non-alcoholic beverages. Moreover, we are not focusing on Ghana only; Kasapreko plans to export them across the African continent.

Which countries in particular?

Kasapreko production

In Africa we say that Nigeria is the China of Africa and once we start in Ghana, we will start to move the products to Nigeria and then we will try to capture West Africa and then move to other parts of Africa.

But you are already thinking about South Africa, aren’t you?

Yes. We currently do some business in South Africa.

And where else?

The countries we are currently targeting are Nigeria, South Africa, Angola, Kenya, Tanzania and Cameroon. Those are our main target countries.

What is your long-term vision following this expansion?

Actually, when you travel all around the world you will find our products especially Alomo Bitters in a lot of African communities in France, Italy or the US. We just don’t do it on a commercial basis over there, but in the long-term, we plan to do it on a more commercial basis also in these particular areas. You can also find our products in the biggest supermarkets in Europe and Asia.

So what will convince a South African distributor, or an Angolan distributor, or any distributor as such, to distribute your products?

Currently, Kasapreko products especially Alomo Bitters have been the fastest growing products in Ghana for the past five years. Moreover, for the past three years, they have been one of the biggest end products in Nigeria, so wherever you are in around the world, try to distribute Alomo Bitters and you won’t fail.

Kasapreko headquarters

Can you take us a bit more inside of the production farms? Where are these farms located?

Kasapreko owns about 200 hectares of forest land where we get most of our herbal plants. Also, we work with the Centre for Scientific Research that grows the plants in their own forest. We actually take the roots, the plants and the tree bark, and they are treated with alcohol to extract their medicinal content out over a period of time. Once their content is extracted, we add a little bit of flavour and lastly, we add alcohol from sugar canes grown in Brazil and South Africa.

You have a role in corporate social responsibility, you have a role in employing people at your farms. How many people work for you in total?

Just at Kasapreko premises we have over 400 people. Outside – in the farms and across our supply chain – we generate employment for more than 1000 people.

Apart from providing employment to our community, we also have other corporate social responsibility projects and initiatives. We re-plant trees and all the roots that we use as a way of preserving the forestry in Ghana. Moreover, Kasapreko has a foundation that supports over 20 students across Ghana and we send them to high schools and universities, we support Mathew 25, an organization that helps people living with HIV, and we support the Ghana Heart Foundation as well.

How old is Kasapreko?

Kasapreko started in 1989 and we are currently 24 years old. When we reach 25 years in 2014 we are planning to go global. So that’s one of our goals – we intend to be one of the biggest companies in Africa.

awards Kasapreko

One of your biggest advantages is that Kasapreko is a very specific business because it’s a family business.

Kasapreko is mainly a family business and not only the owners are part of the family, all the employees are also viewed and treated as part of the family. Sometimes you will find an employee with their spouse or child or another family member working at Kasapreko, so the company is a big family business.

It’s also interesting to talk to someone who is relatively young and very high up. What is your vision of management? What do you want to bring to this company that maybe hasn’t been done yet?

Being a young person in a managerial position gives a lot of confidence to other younger people that are in the industry. The youth also have a chance to speak up any time they have ideas. Of course, these days, most of the graduates that we have around are very young – Kasapreko has one of the youngest managers in Ghana.

What does the company represent within the industrial scene or in Ghana as a whole? What is the image that people have of Kasapreko?

The image Kasapreko has is encouragement. Most companies in Ghana start and they die after five years, or sometimes after 20 years, but people have grown up with Kasapreko for nearly 25 years, they do see Kasapreko and they know that Kasapreko is growing from step to step, and that’s what a lot of graduates look at. A lot of entrepreneurs also study our business and they learn from us,what to do to become like Kasapreko. I meet a lot of lecturers from the universities who always tell me they are using Kasapreko in their lectures, in their books and scripts as case studies of a Ghanaian success story, so Kasapreko is actually one of the companies that encourages people to be active in business.

Kasapreko beverages

Do you envision Kasapreko being a flagship of Ghana or at least a flagship of the industry of Ghana?

Kasapreko is currently a flagship of the liquor industry in Ghana and we want it to be a flagship of the liquor industry of Africa.

To summarise this interview, I want you to give your message for the investors and people who don’t necessarily know Ghana. What would you tell them about the country?

Ghana has a great economy. There are lots of people now moving up into the middle income class, so now there’s a lot of disposable income. Our industry has been growing steadily – more than 10% year-on-year growth – and I would like to encourage more investors to come and invest in the country. At Kasapreko we just invested over US $30 million in a new plant because we know that Ghana and Africa as a whole are awaiting a promising future.

How would you summarise the philosophy of Kasapreko in a few words?

We want to provide and offer quality drinks for all. Basically we try to produce a drink at a quality level for everybody who wants to have a nice time out.

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