Heineken, Anheuser-Busch InBev and Carlsberg will release around a dozen new beer brands into the country to reverse the trend and achieve a 5 to 7% increase in the current financial year. The trio, which together controls 90% of India’s beer market, are hoping the new products will fend off an unhealthy cocktail of sales bans, shrinking store networks, and stagnant demand in a sunparched country that promises positive demographics and increasing affluence. United Breweries, which is partially 38 DRINKtech MAY 2017 NEW ZEALAND owned by Heineken, sells Kingfisher, Kalyani Black Label and Zingaro beers into India and controls around a half of the country’s market. Managing director Shekhar Ramamurthy says the company needs to strengthen its portfolio because consumers demand choice. “In the next six months, we will come up with two strong beer brands in the premium segment, and an interesting portfolio of imported brands in the next six weeks,” he says. Those brands will include pale lager Desperadoes, wheat brand Edelweiss, Mexican brand Sol and Dos Equis, a pale lager from Heineken’s international portfolio. “Some more will be developed in India in the premium segment to further strengthen our market leadership,” Ramamurthy says. “Kingfisher will continue to be our lead brand.” The average consumption of beer in India is around two litres per person a year, which Ramamurphy says is small compared to the global consumption average of about 30 litres. AB InBev – the makers of Budweiser and Fosters – says portfolio expansion will help re-stimulate growth, and will expand its Corona, Hoegaarden and Stella brands into more than a dozen markets across India, although the industry remains regulated with high taxation. In 60% of the markets, state governments dictate the price at which beer can be sold, making companies keen to introduce premium brands that earn higher margins. Stronger variants of flagship beer brands such as Carlsberg Elephant, Tuborg and Budweiser have been introduced, and Carlsberg has recently launched a premium strong beer with scotch malts, Tuborg Classic. Apart from mainstream beer brands, experts say the market could see a slew of new launches in the craft beer segment. From just two craft breweries in 2008, India now has more than 50 across the country, with most centred around Gurgaon, Pune and Bangalore. Owner of 40 beer cafés, Rahul Singh, says the country is mirroring global trends towards beer. “We expect at least 20 new beers to be launched in the fiscal, as there is interest from Canada, New Zealand, Lithuania and even Iceland,” he says. INDIA BEER MARKET ONE TO WATCH A trio of the world’s largest beer companies will collectively launch new brands into India to turn around a 2% fall in beer sales.
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