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International Drink Festival… New addition to Nigeria’s events calendar

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Some guests at the unveiling ceremony for the International Drinks Festival held at the Federal Palace Hotel. Victoria Island, Lagos

According to the 2015, Nigeria is Africa’s largest alcohol consumer accounting for 36% of Africa’s formal alcohol market. Besides, a USDA Gain Report of the same year revealed that Nigeria’s Spirits market is estimated at $2 billion and increasing at 6% average year-to-year since 2007. Imports accounted for approximately $500 million in 2015.

Note also that the Heineken 2016 first quarter results showed that Nigerians were drinking more beer as opposed to 2015. Meanwhile, Euromonitor International, a business intelligence company disclosed that between 2006 and 2011, the Champagne market achieved a compound annual growth of 22%. Accordingly, the total Champagne consumption reached 752,879 bottles (75cl) in 2011, higher than consumption in Russia and Mexico, thereby placing Nigeria among the top 20 Champagne markets in the world.

The report has it that that 38.68 million litres of soft drinks were sold in Nigeria in 2016 and also predicted that Nigerians will drink more than 1,000 tons of coffee in 2020, 23% higher than year 2016.

Ahead of the 2017 Drinktec, the world’s leading trade fair for the beverage and liquid food industry, taking place in Munich Germany later in September, Balmoral Events Solutions Company has resolved to take advantage of Nigeria’s rating in the drinks market and make a festival out of it. Therefore, come December 2017, Lagos, the entertainment capital of Nigeria, will be hosting the world to the maiden edition of the International Drink Festival.

Today, festivals are considered to contribute significantly to the cultural and economic development wealth of host communities. These days, festival organisers are using the historical and cultural themes to develop yearly events to attract visitors and create cultural image in the host cities.

However, the desire for festivals and events is not specifically designed to address the needs for any one particular group. Rather, hosting of events is often developed because of the tourism and economic opportunities, as well as its social and cultural benefits.

No doubt, events have the potential to generate a vast amount of tourism when they cater to out of-region visitors, grants, or sponsorships and has become important tool for building image within different communities.

Speaking ahead of the maiden edition of the International Drinks Festival, the Chief Executive Officer, Balmoral Events Solutions Company Ezekiel Adamu informed that the organization resolved to organise the festival having seen the untapped potential in the drinks market and recognising the immense economic possibilities available to Nigeria, especially in recession.

“Nigeria leads in the consumption and sales of many beverages across the continent yet, the economic benefits are yet to be exploited. The International Drinks Festival will open up opportunities and new vistas for all stakeholders who will converge in Lagos for the festival, and trust me, everybody in the drinks business will be exposed to many exciting opportunities,” he said.

Adamu noted that time has come for Nigerians to think differently. Devoid of cultural myths and sentimental attachments, which serve only to draw the country back among the comity of nations.

“I have heard people insinuate that the festival will only bring out people, who like to drink alcohol and this is entirely untrue. The festival is about all beverages, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic; the reason we have to see it more as a responsible, business development oriented, networking fun package,” he said.

According to the Chief Operating Officer of the firm Akin Esho, with the drive of the Federal Government to diversify the economy away from the dependence on crude oil and the drastic fall in its price on the global market, all sectors are viable and should be tapped into.

“I believe we are in the best times economically; the drop in the price of oil in the global market has opened up an immense opportunity to explore other sectors and the drink and beverage industry is one that is yet to be explored to its optimum economic potential,” he said.

Though elements of these have been factored in to create a feel-good ambience, Esho said the festival should never be seen as a gathering for social drinking and merry-making.

“What we hope to bring to Lagos come December is a convergence of the beverage industry’s stakeholders attending a festival of a 3-day drinks exhibition, summit, masterclass, free tastings, and sales event, all seeking to further grow the drinks business in Nigeria. In very clear terms, the International Drinks Festival will provide a single veritable platform for everybody, who is anybody in the drinks business to interact and expand their business horizon in the best atmosphere of friendship and camaraderie,” he assured.

Meanwhile, the unveiling ceremony for the festival held recently at the Federal Palace Hotel & Casino is tip of the iceberg of what is to be expected in December; it was spectacular. The evening brought together members of the press from virtually all the major media outlets, as well as the crème de la crème of the music, movie, and beverage industry and even, the political class.

Guests were treated to a cocktail session on an exquisite artistic floor plan featuring a spirit bar, palm wine joint, and a local beer parlor complete with ladies on stilts, and some standing inside waist-high glass chandeliers. It was a sight to behold!



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