It is a good news for beer lovers as top beer makers like Heineken, Anheuser-Busch InBev, and Carlsberg are introducing about a dozen new beer brands in India to capitalize on the summer sale of the beers.
These top three global brewers together control about 90 per cent of India’s beer market. The new beer brands will likely augment the sale this year. India’s beer sales fell 2 per cent in the year to March 2017, but companies expect the segment to expand 5-7 per cent in the current fiscal, driven by premium products.
Good news is that United Breweries will launch brands like Desperados, a pale lager beer, a wheat beer brand Edelweiss, Mexican brand Sol, and Dos Equis, a pale lager from Heineken’s international portfolio. Besides, some more brands are being developed in India in the premium segment to further strengthen UB’s market leadership.
With annual sales of about 300 million cases, India is the latest focus area for global brewers that are battling sluggishness in more mature markets around the world. Yet, average consumption of beer in India is about 2 litres per person a year, minuscule compared to the global consumption average of about 30 litres.
In India, the industry remains regulated with high taxation. In many parts of the country, wholesale or retail distribution is controlled by the state government. Also in 60 per cent of the markets, state governments dictate the price at which beer can be sold. Hence, companies are pushing for premium brands that earn higher margins.
Also, India remains a country favouring strong beer, and global companies have been producing stronger variants of their flagship beer brands such as Carlsberg Elephant, Tuborg, and Budweiser.
Last week, Carlsberg launched a premium strong beer with scotch malts, Tuborg Classic, which managing director Michael N Jensen claimed will be one of the biggest innovations to have hit the Indian beer industry. Apart from mainstream beer brands, experts believe the market could see a slew of new launches in the craft beer segment, an expanding niche.
From just two craft breweries in 2008, India now has more than 50 across the country, with most centered around Gurgaon, Pune and Bangalore, as per Euromonitor data. There has been a global move toward craft beers, and India mirrors the trend.
India expects at least 20 new beers to be launched in the fiscal, as there is interest from Canada, New Zealand, Lithuania, and even Iceland.