For immediate release: February 14, 2019
Media contact: Maik Dünnbier

Not A Love Story: Heineken In Africa

New book exposes the unethical business practices of the Dutch beer brewer in pursuit of profits in Africa

Movendi International welcomes the new book “Heineken in Africa” (first time published in English) and calls for stronger action to hold Big Alcohol accountable for pervasive Human Rights abuses.

“Heineken in Africa” exposes with compelling evidence and stories the unethical practices of the Dutch beer giant Heineken.

Heineken boasts that its presence on the African continent boosts development. After six years of research, journalist Olivier van Beemen provides a detailed investigation. The truth he uncovered is not a love story: Heineken is exploiting people, communities and countries in Africa. The book details a shocking list of unethical practices employed by the world’s second largest beer producer:

  1. Support for apartheid
  2. Complicity in genocide
  3. Support for authoritarian regimes and collaboration with rebel groups
  4. Corruption
  5. Tax avoidance
  6. Aggressive political lobbying to obstruct, derail and undermine public health policy making
  7. Unethical alcohol marketing, like beer promotion in schools
  8. The beer promotional girls scheme, running for almost two decades
  9. Exploitation of young women
  10. Sexual abuse
  11. Serious problems with protecting worker’s rights
  12. Severe issues with ensuring adequate workplace safety
  13. Misinformation about alcohol’s effects
  14. Fuelling stereotypes about Africa

Heineken extracts windfall profits from African countries, but leaves families, communities and entire societies behind, heavily burdened with the massive costs from its harmful products and practices,” says Kristina Sperkova, International President, Movendi International.

In the era of the SDGs, the story of “Heineken in Africa” shows how sustainable development is NOT done.

This book is a must-read for everyone interested in health, development, trade, globalization, multinational corporations, human rights, women empowerment and social justice.”

Kristina Sperkova, International President, Movendi International

A recent WHO report shows that countries in Africa are now bearing the heaviest burden of alcohol-related disease and injury. Van Beemen writes in The Guardian: ”As far as I have been able to determine, the Dutch beer brewer’s behavior resembles that of its competitors…”

The book must be a wake-up call,” says Kristina Sperkova.

Big Alcohol is not an ordinary industry. Their brands and business practices are soaked in Human Rights abuses all over the world. It is exploitation sold to us as a love story.”

Kristina Sperkova, International President, Movendi International

Heineken uses marketing activities as well as Corporate Social Responsibility and partnership schemes like with the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria or the UN’s Global Compact to portray itself as benevolent. These schemes help to white-wash the beer giant’s appalling Human Rights track record and provide strategic advantages in pursuit of increasing profits.

People and communities in Africa and all over the world deserve better. They have a right to protection from corporate abuse and exploitation. And they deserve that Big Alcohol finally be held accountable for the death, disease, and destruction they are causing knowingly every day.”

Kristina Sperkova, International President, Movendi International


Notes to the editors

More about the book “Heineken in Africa”

Hurst Publishers provide an overview page with a short description of the book, some reviews and brief information about the author Olivier van Beemen.

The 2018 WHO Global Alcohol Status Report

The World Health Organization published the latest volume of the “Global Status Report on Alcohol and Health” in September 2018, detailing latest scientific evidence about the alcohol-related burden and effective policy options to address alcohol-related harm, as well as country profiles.

Scientific article: Is the alcohol industry doing well by ‘doing good’? Findings from a content analysis of the alcohol industry’s actions to reduce harmful drinking

A 2018 analysis conducted by Babor et. al. shows that “Alcohol industry CSR activities are unlikely to reduce harmful alcohol use but they do provide commercial strategic advantage while at the same time appearing to have a public health purpose.”

What are the Sustainable Development Goals?

Adopted in 2015 by the governments of the world, the 2030 Agenda contains 17 Sustainable Development Goals with 169 targets. The 17 SDGs cover all three aspects of sustainable human development: the social, environmental and economic dimension.

Who is Movendi International?

Movendi International is the premier global network for evidence-based policy solutions and community-based interventions to prevent and reduce alcohol-related harm. Founded in 1851, Movendi International has 117 Member Organizations in 46 countries and works with the most comprehensive approach to promoting development through addressing alcohol harm, by working with prevention, treatment and rehabilitation as well as policy advocacy.