Visiting a friend or family member empty handed has always been socially unacceptable. Depending on the occasion, people always take something with them. If it is a birthday celebration, one would bring a cake or a birthday card; if one is visiting someone that fell ill, one would bring fruits or flowers. In that same vein, if visiting during the holidays, it is customary to take a bottle of some kind of liquor.
This is, of course, not limited to gifts. People also purchase liquor, locally known as araqie, for their own consumption at home as well. And it is this very same trend that sees a number of people standing in line in front of liquor shops across the city.
As Easter is approaching after the end of the longest and hardest lent season, locally known Hudade Tsom, people are eager to consume liquor together with the food items they want to cook for holidays.
Reggasa Gemeda, 65, is one of these people who came early to purchase his favourite liquor at the outlet of National Alcohol & Liquor Factory as Fortune visited the establishment on Tuesday April 7, 2015. After waiting his turn in line, Reggasa finally bought a bottle of Ouzo, his personal favourite with alcohol content of 41pc.
“The price of Araqie has not shown any change during this holiday so far. It is the same as the previous holidays and is reasonable,” Regessa said, adding that the reason he comes to the shop early is not to avoid higher prices, rather to avoid the long lines during the eve of the holiday.
Another buyer, Gebregziabher Gebremariam, was also satisfied by the price of the liquor he bought. Even though Gebregzabher’s favourite alcohol is tella, the traditional home made beer, he had purchased Ouzo because he did not want to set it aside because he feels Araqie is among the holiday essentials in his house.
“I wanted to buy Ouzo because I will invite my relatives and friends and some of them want to take some Araqie,” Gebregzabher told Fortune.
The factory sells its liquor for 52 Br a bottle when customers come with a substitute bottle or for 60 Br when it is sold with the bottle. This price is, however, higher when it is retailed at shops, 90 Br when it is sold with the bottle and 80 Br when it is sold without.
There are also imported and locally produced whisky, vodka and wine displayed at markets with an increasing supply and demand.
Country Trading is one of the importers of different kinds of liquor. It exclusively imports Stolichnaya Vodka and Label Five whiskey. The trading company, whose supply and market booms during holidays, has made special arrangements for this Easter.
“As this holiday is celebrated after a long fasting period, our market has been almost fully down for the last two months, said a marketing officer at the company. Moreover, there is an emerging culture of people using alcohol more to entertain themselves, Medhanit said.
“This holiday is unique,” she added, “because the liquor market had been almost stopped for two months , unlike New Year and Christmas.”
Retailers had also increased their supply of liquor due to the arrival of the Easter holiday. Seifu Dinku, who has a bar at Chechnya, expects a doubling of his market because of the Easter . He had doubled his supply of liquor from the normal supply of 10 boxes per day.
Whiskey and wine are in demand at Seifu’s bar, including the increasing demand for the new local brands, Rift valley and Castel, which are dominating the market because of their lesser price.
“Most people are not interested in spending a lot on expensive, imported brands,” he said.
The local wines are sold for between the price range of 50 Br to 80 Br. But the market has imported varieties ranging in price from 450 Br to 2,000 Br.
National Alcohol & Liquor Factory has increased its production at its factory in Mexico from the normal 20,000 bottles a day to 24,000 bottles for the holiday. It has also increased its production at its Sebeta plant from 8,000 bottles per day to 10,000 bottles.
“Ouzo and Enatna Lij, a stronger version of the Ouzo, are both in high demand because of their higher alcohol content and we have increased production of them in advance,” Kokebe Kumbi, Market Research, Product Development & Sales Case Team manager at National Alcohol & Liquor Factory told Fortune.
The difference of the current holiday with the previous year’s Easter, Kokebe says, is that customers have started coming earlier, more than a week before the holiday. The factory’s market continues booming until the eve of the holiday as well as two weeks after.
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