Spirit of the Nation
Timea Chogo is a leading female figure in the Tanzanian food and beverage sector. As Commercial Director of Tanzania Distilleries Limited, we receive a first-hand account of the industry and the company’s impact on the country’s development
Writer: Marcus Kääpä | Project Manager: Kyle Livingstone
“Our heritage with over 40 years’ existence and experience is a clear competitive advantage, it demonstrates the trust and confidence that our consumers have in us.”
Heritage is a strength. In a world that is constantly evolving, where technological advancement and the demands of the market are growing, the notion of historic and cultural roots strikes a comforting chord in us all.
For Tanzania Distilleries Limited (TDL), this is a key part of the company’s continued legacy. It’s embodied in its brands, marked in its quality, and drives the high level of care it shows its employees.
“Our greatest strength is our people, each of which is a representative of the company,” says Timea Chogo, Commercial Director at Tanzania Distilleries. “Our flagship brand Konyagi is one of the oldest and most famous spirits in Africa. It is a pioneer in our market having been established in 1970 and has stood the test of time ever since.
“It is a respected brand in the Tanzanian market as well as the nation’s local spirit benchmark. We pride ourselves on Konyagi being unmistakeably 100 percent Tanzanian. The brand stands for heritage, pride, togetherness, sharing, respect and strength of character. We are committed to ensuring that we remain the benchmark for local spirits in Tanzania.”
Strength is certainly a prominent aspect of the Konyagi brand. With a logo depicting a muscled man clasping his hands in a ring above his head - a symbol of character and unity – the brand both promises and reminds customers that they will continue to receive the same uncompromising quality and taste that they have experienced since the business was formed.
Contributing to the nation
For Chogo, TDL’s impact in Tanzania extends beyond the drinks experience. The company stands as the largest single contributor to the country’s revenue and takes immense pride in this fact.
“As part of TBL, our business makes us a key partner in the socio-economic development of Tanzania as a whole, and an active player in the agriculture value chain,” she tells us proudly. “We have direct contracts with farmers in our main agricultural inputs: sorghum, barley and grapes.
“TBL Group is also the top manufacturer and top employer, investing significantly in people, manufacturing, processes and the supply chain, creating over one million jobs in Tanzania, directly and indirectly.”
This year, TDL partnered with the Ministry of Agriculture, and the Tanzania Agricultural Research Institute (TARI), to introduce the direct contract farming model to 24 grape farmers in Hombolo, Dodoma, with the aim of developing the grape industry. The pilot project has so far proven to be a success; to date, TDL has purchased 233 tonnes of grapes from the contracted farmers and is committed to expanding this project in the next grape season.
On top of this, as part of TBL, sustainability is a significant part of business, and the group focuses on areas that drive the greatest impact in the communities in which it operates.
“TBL is committed to employing sustainability at each stage of the brewing process from, ‘seed to sip’,” Chogo continues. “For this reason, we pour ourselves into our work. From farm to brewery, and brewery to market, we take pride and ownership in every step of our business. We are paving a road for a better tomorrow that we’re all proud to be part of.
“Our first sustainable goal is Smart Agriculture, in which 100 percent of our direct farmers will be skilled, connected and financially empowered by 2025. As the largest consumer of grapes in the country (at 70 percent) we are committed to work directly with grape farmers to grow natural ingredients using good agricultural practices. Providing agronomic and financial support, we therefore ensure the quality of our products while actively supporting livelihoods of farming communities.
“For us, being a key partner in the socio-economic development of Tanzania starts at the seed.”
Answering market demand
According to Chogo, TDL has been a part of an industry that is currently experiencing a positive and steady growth, one that comes down to the diversification of consumers buying across the various business segments of high-end, mainstream and mass products.
On top of this, the increase in locally produced spirits in Tanzania also being introduced into the market in recent years, and the subsequent rise in consumption, had led to an expected annual market rise of 7.2 percent (CAGR 2012-2025).
“It is definitely an exciting space to be working in at the moment, not only with respect to business growth but also with regard to working for a globally renowned organisation such as Anheuser-Busch InBev, where the consumer is at the centre and heart of everything we do,” Chogo informs us. “It is a privilege to be able to work with an organisation where our brands connect and bring people together to celebrate life every day.
“But as well as this, being the first female to lead TDL since its establishment over 40 years ago adds to the excitement of turning around the business, reclaiming number one market leadership position, as well as an opportunity to leave behind a legacy I can be proud of.”
TDL has established itself as a reliable and responsible exporter of spirits, thereby contributing to Tanzania’s export drive and foreign earnings. The company’s Konyagi flagship spirit brand has been doing exceptionally well in the export business.
“We currently export Konyagi to Zambia, Rwanda and Kenya and are looking to expand to more countries within and outside the African continent,” Chogo says. “In addition to our flagship brand, we intend on expanding our other brands in the TDL portfolio, namely Zanzi Cream Liquor and Valuer Brandy into these export markets.
“Currently, Tanzania has two grape varieties locally, white - Chenin Blanc, and red - Makutupora red. As a key partner to the government, our ambition is to introduce and develop other international grape varieties in the grape industry so as to explore and expand the export market, and to increase our competitiveness in the wine industry as well.”