Australian craft brewer set to expand into growing Indian market

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 26th September 2013

Local craft brewer The Australian Brewery is about to expand into the global export market after successful negotiations to supply to India.

Two distributors have agreed to import the beer into India after a promotion by the brewer in Delhi. The Australian Brewery, which was founded in Sydney in 2010, said that when Austrade India invited the brewer to supply product for the promotion, the Company sent ‘ambassadors’ to present the product personally.

Currently, Fosters is the only Australian beer on offer in India, and The Australian Brewery said its beer will be the first craft beer available.

“The big local brands such as Kingfisher are launching premium variations to their existing product for the burgeoning middle and upper class,” said David Ward, Ambassor for The Australian Brewery. “We aren’t the only ones to look at this market – Nail Brewing sent over their Pale Ale and Stout, while Coopers sent their Pale Ale,” he said.

Mr Ward said that while the response to the whole range was positive, the brewer’s Pale Ale was the most popular.

“The distinctive passionfruit and mango aroma, and the flavour of galaxy hops gelled really well with the Indian palate,” Mr Ward said.

The Australian Brewery said its first 250 cases are set to leave Australia for India soon. The brewer said it was confident it would soon be able to expand its export opportunities further afield.

Beer market in India

The Australian Brewery may be riding a trend in India towards both imported and craft beer, according to findings from global market research organisation Euromonitor International.

Imported beer is expected to show a steady increase in India, as is craft beer, though both will remain a small share of overall beer consumption, according to Euromonitor International. Beer volume sales are forecast to grow at a CAGR of 10 per cent in the period between 2012 and 2017, and sales growth is expected to be more or less in tune with growth in the last few years, as companies continue to build on distribution and keep introducing variants like flavoured beer or mild beer.

Euromonitor International also found that beer sales posted a volume growth of 11 per cent in 2012, spurred by a hot summer and rising prices of competing liquor such as spirits and wine. A crackdown by State governments on illegal spirits and country liquor also caused a shift to branded beer.

In 2012, United Breweries had 53 per cent market share by volume in India, according to Euromonitor International, followed by SABMiller India Ltd with 27 per cent volume share. The third player, Carlsberg India Pty ltd, came in a 6 per cent, sharply increasing its share from 2011, but still far behind the two major players.

Brewing a ‘challenged industry’ globally

Meanwhile, findings from global food and beverage market research organisation Canadean found that the global financial crisis has challenged the brewing industry across many industries in the last few years. According to Canadean, as consumers across Europe and America have felt the squeeze, mainstream beer brands have been left out of shopping baskets, and visits to bars and restaurants have become less frequent. While some discount and premium brands have done well, the traditional middle market has struggled.

Emerging markets see beer sales growth

On the other hand, Canadean said many emerging markets in South America, South Africa and Asia have seen growth as the middle class swells and beer becomes an affordable option. The top 13 fastest growing brands worldwide over the last three years are all found in developing beer markets such as China, Mexico, Brazil and South Africa, according to Canadean.

China in particular has seen constant development, according to Canadean. The top four fastest growing brands are all Chinese, and all of their growth stems from their domestic market. Only Tsingtao is available internationally, but over 99 per cent of the brand’s volume is still sold in China, despite Canadean recording measurable volume growth for the brand in 15 other markets.

The top 14 fastest growing brands have all been driven by growth from their domestic market. According to Canadean, several factors make the performance of a beer brand in its domestic market extremely important. These include the traditional high degree of brand loyalty shown by beer drinkers, the longevity of beer brands, as well as the often strong links between a brand and national or regional culture. It is common to see a beer referred to as ‘the country’s national beer’ or as the ‘regional beer’ for a certain area.

Not all top performers local

However, Canadean said not all the top performing brands had been driven by their domestic market.

The Heineken brand saw growth in several countries, according to Canadean, with its performance in Vietnam being particularly notable. According to Canadean, the success in Vietnam can be attributed to the brand’s stylish image, along with its distribution network and intensive marketing and promotion activities.

Common factors for successful beer brands

The beer brands that exhibited the best growth had some factors in common, according to Canadean. All the brands had success in their domestic market, a solid brand image, an appropriate price point and an effective distribution.

However, each beer market had its own specific dynamic and drivers, according to Canadean. The performance of international brands has varied widely in recent years because of these market specific conditions.

Australian beer trends

The changes in the global beer market come as Australia sees shifts in alcohol consumption. Australian Food News reported earlier in the week that beer consumption in Australia had seen a 66-year low, while wine consumption was growing.

The Australian Brewery is set to expand into the growing Indian beer market