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What the InBev merger means for health in Africa
  1. Johanna Hanefeld1,
  2. Benjamin Hawkins1,
  3. Cecile Knai2,
  4. Karen Hofman3,
  5. Mark Petticrew4
  1. 1Anthropology, Politics and Policy Group, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, UK
  2. 2Department of Health Services Research, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, UK
  3. 3School of Public Health, University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
  4. 4Department of Social and Environmental Research, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Johanna Hanefeld; Johanna.Hanefeld{at}

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The merger between the world's two largest beer producers—AB InBev and SABMiller—has potentially far-reaching consequences for health in Africa. The deal, announced in November 2015 and agreed by the European Commission on 24th May, will result in this new conglomerate having a dominant position in the global beer market.1

The merger comes at a key juncture for the global alcohol industry. Alcohol-related health harms have been gaining critical attention in many high-income countries,2 leading to revisions to guidance on alcohol consumption3 in some cases (eg, in the UK4) and moves towards greater regulation of the sale and marketing of alcoholic beverages, such as the proposed introduction of minimum pricing for alcohol in Scotland.5 With reductions in consumption observed in more mature markets,6 the alcohol industry is under increasing pressure to open up and develop new sources of growth and profit elsewhere. Confronted with this more difficult business environment in their home markets, the global alcohol industry is increasingly looking to populous, less regulated but ever more affluent low and middle income countries (LMICs) as a source of new consumers.7

An emerging body of evidence demonstrates that expansion into Africa is an explicit part of the industry's growth strategy1 ,7 ,8 and that companies are already lobbying governments and shaping …

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