Global hop marketA local alternative to mass beer suggested by independent brewers has been successful and is now altering the global market. Beer is becoming more diversified, so transnational companies have to accept the new game rules and to switch focus to young and fast growing markets. All these processes increased the demand for aroma and bitter hop as well as their acreage expansion on two continents. However now there appeared a downward trend of alcohol consumption in the world, so even special sorts can soon turn to be sufficient. In this connection the dynamic American hop market is already facing some problems. EU hop producers have become more cautious, they are not racing to exceed the demand and look forward with more confidence, judging by the contract terms.
Hop Market in RussiaGermany still dominates the Russian market, yet over the recent two years one has been able observe a continuous success of Czech hop suppliers. Their expansion and growing popularity of hops from the United States became the drivers of supplies growth in 2016 despite the preceding modest harvest crop in the EU, as well as the factor of relative stability in 2017. In this connection, in 2017, the ratio of the varieties continued to shift towards the aroma ones, and the supplies of Magnum hop and other alpha varieties were reduced. However, the import of bitter hop pellets is partially replaced by extracts, especially from the major beer manufacturers. Total volumes of alpha acid supplies, according to our estimation, decreased by approximately 5% and returned to the level of 2015. Barth Haas Group continues dominating the hop products market; HVG also increased its weight. At the same time, Morris Hanbury significantly reduced the supplies in 2017.
10+1 trends of Russian beer market 2015-2017Despite of the moderately negative prognoses for 2017, the beer market can be stabilized soon. Yet the years of the negative dynamics have resulted in marketing being limited just to “optimization” and the art of balancing between price and volumes. Bigger supermarkets share means stronger trade marketing. These processes are connected to the majority of the described trends. At the same time, the federal brands inflation leads to searching for new tastes, sales channels and contact formats that expand the product range and diversify the beer market, but do not imply a substantial volume increase. Let us enumerate and further discuss the ten trends of the beer market we can see in 2015-2017 as well as the major event of 2017.
Beer market of Ukraine 2017In the first half of 2017, the Ukrainian beer market goes on decreasing slowly. Yet, the companies manage to compensate their lost volumes by raising prices and improving the sales structures. This results in the mid price market segment reduction while the sales of premium brands are rising. These processes are connected to position strengthening of companies Carlsberg Group and Oasis and the market share reduction of Obolon. Most of the novelties by the market leaders belong to craft or hard lemon categories.
Beer market of Russia 2016: PET goes to draftThe beer market of Russia was warmed up by the hot summer, but the preparation for large volume PET prohibition has already impacted it negatively. The year was successful for Efes, MBC and regional producers; Carlsberg’s positions were virtually stable but AB InBev and Heineken lost a part of market share having focused on the sales profitability. The dynamics of big brands was determined by how much the companies were willing to keep the prices down or by their promotional activity. In this context the economy segment of the beer market and sales of inexpensive draft beer were increasing. The premium segment started shrinking due to license brands migrating to the mainstream segment.
Comment – Anheuser-Busch InBev’s Stellar Hopes for Stella Cidre
Upon hearing of plans for a 'Stella Artois cider' today (2 February), I was, for some reason, reminded of a recent advert for Trebor, which sees a junior company employee shock the media audience by announcing the mint maker's plans to leave its mainstay market and launch a gum.
I don't think many people saw Stella Cidre coming. I mean, why would you? C&C Group's Magners brand has been dragged through the mud here in the UK since the heady days of its launch in 2006, while Heineken's Bulmers has hardly fared much better. With both of these brands only just beginning to stabilise, and with Heineken's Strongbow also hanging around in the background, can the UK stomach another mainstream cider brand? And, won't this move dilute the Stella Artois brand, which has finally started to put all those nasty nicknames behind it?
There are, to my mind, two main reasons why Stella Cidre has a decent chance of succeeding.
Firstly, Stella Artois is, according to A-B InBev, the biggest selling alcoholic drinks brand in the UK. That means that, if anyone has the distribution scale and branding muscle to make the jump into a new product category, then Stella does. Plus, A-B InBev is loaded and we can expect multi-million pound marketing support for the launch, which will take place at Easter.
Secondly, despite the travails of Magners and Bulmers, premium cider is doing well in the UK. In November last year, Nielsen said that strong demand for high-end cider had helped the category to grow value "twice as strongly as the total beer, wine and spirits market" during the previous 12 months.
Meanwhile, the National Association of Cider Makers estimates that cider accounts for 9% of the UK's alcoholic drinks market by volume. The trade body also says that 50% of those who drink alcohol claim never to drink cider. If you're feeling optimistic, then, that represents a significant untapped consumer base.
One of A-B InBev's main challenges is to attract new cider drinkers to the category. That's something that the group's UK president, Stuart MacFarlane, is confident the new brand can do. "We will bring in more premium drinkers into cider than any other brands can do, because they don't transcend other categories like Stella does," MacFarlane told just-drinks today.
He says that the company has spent a year on development in order to make sure the liquid is better than the likes of Bulmers and Magners. Certainly, Stella Cidre tastes as though it has a high juice content, and is less sweet than some of its mainstream rivals. Could this be a mainstream, premium cider for discerning drinkers?
One issue might be whether Stella Artois Cidre knows what it wants to be. The company is not targeting a specific demographic, aside from "premium drinkers above 20 years of age", and says that it is not going to push the brand either way on the 'over-ice' question. According to Nielsen, most cider consumers in the on-trade drink 'over-ice', but the majority of the category growth is coming from pear cider and so-called niche brands, such as Aspalls and Westons, who have distanced themselves from the over-ice phenomenon.
At the same time, will consumers understand the brand's Belgian credentials? Most people know that Belgium knocks out some pretty tasty beers, but not so many will be aware of the country's cider-making heritage.
"MacFarlane's watchwords are "premium" and "accessible". He said: "Premium brands like Aspalls and Weston's are never going to be totally accessible, but we can do that."
No-one doubts A-B InBev's ability to put Stella Cidre in front of consumers, but gaining traction in a crowded corner of the UK drinks market is going to be tough. It will be an interesting battle to watch in 2011.
3 Feb. 2011