South African employees must work 1 hour and 5 minutes to make enough to buy a beer

Robert Laing

Robert Laing

The average South African has to work one hour and five minutes to earn enough to buy a beer, whereas it only takes a US worker 10minutes.

This is according to a beer affordability index SABMiller includes in presentations. The company said the index was "mainly for fun". SABMiller spokesmen contacted were uncertain how it is calculated.

The benchmark beer in South Africa is presumably its best-selling Castle 330ml dumpy, which retails for around R5.

According to Statistics South Africa's most recent data, the average employed South African earned R7862 in February. Assuming an employee works 180 hours a month, he/she will earn a Castle dumpy every nine minutes - the same as in Italy, which SABMiller rated as the most affordable beer market.

SABMiller's statistics possibly include estimates of informal sector earnings left out of Stats SA's figures. At least South African don't have to work six and a quarter hours to afford a beer - SABMiller's figure for India.

Company sources said SABMiller tends to use Castle as its reference for how much beer costs to produce in various countries.

The affordability of beer is affected by taxes on alcoholic beverages and production costs.

One of the reasons beer is so expensive in India is the country's high sin taxes.

Although not pitched as a competitor to the Economist's Big Mac index, SABMiller's table provides an interesting second opinion.

The global brewing giant is now active in 60 countries although only 11 countries are included on SABMiller's index. In Africa alone, it sells beer in 31 countries.