This summer promises to be heady, with about half-a-dozen beer brands making their India debut. These are some of the best-known names in the business: Lowenbrau, Stella Artois, Beck’s, Baron’s Strong Beer, Tiger, Cobra Bite and even an array of British ales.
The country’s beer market is estimated to be 137 million cases a year and growing at 30 per cent annually. That and the reduction in additional customs duty on liquor have made it a land of opportunity for multinational companies.
“With the Indian economy burgeoning, we see a great opportunity for exporting our lager and ale to India,” said Janet Witheridge, deputy director, Brewing British Beer Pub Association.
Asia Pacific Breweries launched Baron’s Strong beer last month. Next, the company plans to brew its flagship brands Tiger and Heineken.
“We are looking at all opportunities that come our way,” said James Wong, the company’s general manager, Singapore cluster. “By widening our portfolio, we are certain that within the next five years we will be one of the top three players in India.”
Danish beer maker Carlsberg, which has launched its eponymous brand and opened up the super premium category in India, plans to roll out the brand nationally this year.
“The local beer market has always been competitive but with the new breed of globe-trotting Indian, the domestic market is not only warming up to foreign brands but also willing to pay the price for a quality product,” says Pradeep Gidwani, managing director, South Asia Breweries Ltd, part of the Carlsberg group which also plans to take national its strong beer, Palone, this summer.
Belgian brewer InBev, which entered the country through a venture with RJ Corp, initially decided to go in for contract bottling.
However it is now in the process of setting up its greenfield brewery in Andhra Pradesh and looking to do the same in north India. The company is set to roll out its three brands, Lowenbrau, Stella Artois and Beck’s.
Enthused by the response to Cobra Premium Lager and King Cobra, Karan Bilimoria-promoted Cobra Beer Ltd is gearing up to launch all its international brands in India in two years.