AB InBev says new tax has led to panic buying of beer in Zimbabwe

AB InBev’s Zimbabwe interest has said the government dithering over a controversial tax on money transfers has led to panic buying of beer and a disruption in fuel supplies, overshadowing a bumper six-month period of sales.

Delta, which has the world’s biggest brewer as its largest shareholder, said business confidence has been undermined in the country by “conflicting statements from authorities”. The shortage of fuel has disrupted deliveries while a surge in demand has made the market unpredictable, it said in a results presentation on Wednesday.

Zimbabwe’s finance minister Mthuli Ncube introduced the levy last month to help repair stretched state finances, only for President Emmerson Mnangagwa to announce a rethink after a wave of panic buying and a rise in basic-commodity prices.

Foreign-exchange shortages and austerity measures have also hurt consumers yet to see signs of an economic revival after the ouster of Robert Mugabe a year ago.

Delta’s performance in the six months to the end of September benefited from the optimistic mood that characterised the election period, with lager sales jumping 54% to $187m. Volumes passed their historical peak in 2012-2013, with sorghum beer production also rising.