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Apr, 17 2017

​Beer companies unite together to quench thirst of their consumers

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.

Heineken, Anheuser-Busch InBev, and Carlsberg are collectively introducing about a dozen new beer brands in India to slake the thirst of its summer-singed consumers.

For the world’s top three brewers, which together control about 90 per cent of India’s beer market, new products could be the recipe for fending off an unhealthy cocktail of sales bans, shrinking store networks, and stagnant demand in a warm, tropical country with promising demographics and increasing affluence.

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.

Skekhar Ramamurthy, Managing Director, United Breweries (UB), said, "We need to strengthen our portfolio because consumers want to choose, and we want to be a part of their 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 added, "Then some more are being developed in India in the premium segment to further strengthen our market leadership. Kingfisher will continue to be our lead brand."

AB InBev, the maker of Budweiser and Fosters, said consumer sentiment continues to stay positive and its portfolio expansion will help re-stimulate growth.

Kartikeya Sharma, Marketing Director, AB InBev, India and South-East Asia, said, "The trend of consumers trading up has never been stronger in the country and the premium segment has been unaffected by the slowdown."

Apart from mainstream beer brands, experts believe the market could see a slew of new launches in the craft beer segment, an expanding niche.

Rahul Singh, who owns 40 beer cafes across 12 cities, said, "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."

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