Market Manipulation: EABL, Diageo’s Subsidiary Accused of Using Unfair Tactics to Crush Competitors


From left-Kenya Breweries Limited managing director Jane Karuku, Kenya Association of Manufacturers KAM) Chief Executive Officer Phyllis Wakiaga and KenGen corporate & regulatory services director Simon Ngure follow proceedings during the Kenya Association of Manufactures in partnership with Kenya Breweries Limited (KBL) bench-marking forum at KBL on July 12, 2019. Kenya Breweries limited was recently crowned the most energy efficient company in during the Energy Management Awards 2019. SALATON NJAU (NAIROBI)

African Originals, a startup located in Nairobi, is currently facing challenges from regulations that are jeopardizing its future. The company, known for its popular ‘KO’ brand of ciders, iced teas, and gins, is attributing its predicament to both its competitors and the market leader, East African Breweries Limited (EABL).

In the current edition of Semafor Africa newsletter, pan African online publication, it’s alleged that EABL could be waging dirty wars against African Originals.

African Originals, a 7-year old startup accuses EABL of copying some of her products and also sponsoring tweets purported to be from customers complaining about health complications after consumption of African Originals’ products.

In a letter written by the company to EABL, they accuse the market giant of engaging Wowzi, a Nairobi-based  digital marketing company with links to top influencers and that it was this particular company that was used to wage a war online in vital tweets to defame KO.

EABL is alleged to have engaged the same digital firm that deals with ‘macro-influencers’ to give ‘authenticity’ in other campaigns.

The company also accuses EABL staff of maligning her products and incentivized supermarkets staff not to display their products.

“We are ready and willing to compete with EABL on merit through the quality and prices of our products but we are not prepared to suffer serious commercial harm as a result of their smear campaign,” African Originals chairman Henry Rudd wrote in the letter to Diageo’s general counsel in London.

In the 90s EABL had a bruising turf war with the South African brand Castle Brewery forcing the latter to close her multi million factory at Thika leading to the loss of 800 jobs in 2002.

In 2019, EABL was involved in bottle war with Keroche Brewery with the later accusing EABL of dirty tactics to entrench monopoly in the country’s brewing industry.

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