The San Juan Star / May 17, 2005
By Larry Luxner
SANTO DOMINGO — Watch out, Presidente.
The Dominican subsidiary of Brazilian beer giant AmBev will soon open a $100 million brewery in Santo Domingo, capital of the Dominican Republic. Its objective: to offer this beer-guzzling Caribbean nation of 8.5 million an array of new and interesting alternatives to Presidente, which has dominated the local beer market for as long as anyone can remember.
The brewery is being built in Hato Nuevo, on the banks of the Río Manoguayabo just west of Santo Domingo. Its owner is Compañía Cervecera AmBev Dominicana (CCAD), which entered the country in February 2004 by acquiring 60% of local Pepsi-Cola bottler Embotelladora Dominicana for an undisclosed price.
At present, CCAD employs 1,700 people directly, and another 6,000 indirectly in the production, sale and distribution of soft drinks. Once the brewery goes into operation, those numbers will rise to 2,150 direct and 7,200 indirect employees.
That, says María Elena Portorreal — an official with the U.S. Commercial Service in Santo Domingo — will open up opportunities for U.S. exporters of refrigeration systems, air compression systems, beverage storage containers, safety and security supplies, fire prevention equipment, pipes and water treatment equipment.
Expected to become fully operational this August, the brewery will have a production cpaacity of 1.0 million hectoliters a year. Among the brands CCAD plans to offer: Antárctica, Skol, Brahma, Stella Artois, Beck's, Quilmes, Labatt Blue, Rolling Rock and Carlsberg.
"Our entry into the Dominican Republic forms part of the international expansion strategy of AmBev," said CCAD's director-general, Jorge Rocha. "We decided to invest in this country because of the huge potential that the Dominican beer market represents."
AmBev, headquartered in São Paulo, was formed in 1999 through the merger of former Brazilian beer rivals Antárctica and Brahma. It is now one of the largest beer conglomerates in the world.
In addition to Brazil, AmBev operates 70 breweries and soft-drink plants in Argentina, Bolivia, Canada, Chile, Ecuador, Guatemala, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela. Together, those plants produce around 145 million hectoliters of beer and employ over 18,500 people.
Manuel García Arévalo, CCAD's executive vice-president, told Santo Domingo's El Nacional newspaper that the $100 million investment is going ahead "thanks to the rapid recuperation of macroeconomic stability spearheaded by the country, under the direction of the new government."
Martin Bompadre, director of marketing for the company, said CCAD is "working hard with the sole objective of being able to offer Dominican consumers new options to enjoy."
For now, the vast majority of Dominicans are enjoying Presidente, which has been brewed by Cervecería Nacional Dominicana S.A. since 1935.
At present, CND controls 98% of the Dominican beer market through Presidente (95%) and three other brands with together comprise 3%; Heineken and Bohemia, brewed locally by CND, and Miller, which the company imports.
Most of the remaining 2% is controlled by CND's only local competitor up until now, Cervecería Vegana, which brews Quisqueya and Soberana. A tiny quantity of imported beer finds its way into the Dominican Republic, and is consumed mainly by tourists.