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.
Czech Beer: Big name brewers see sales drop, but small brands cite growth
Various sources estimate that while beer sales as a whole declined between 10 percent and 12 percent, small- to midsize breweries saw an increase in the amount of beer sold, making a small dent in the market share held by big brewers such as Plze?sk? Prazdroj and Staropramen.
The Czech Beer and Malt Association (?SPS) estimates a 12 percent total drop in sales from 2009 to 2010, though final numbers will not be released until March. A ?SPS-commissioned analysis conducted in June by PwC showed sales had been down 10 percent in the first quarter of 2010. At the time, the decline was largely attributed to an increased excise tax and VAT rate that went into effect at the beginning of the year.
K Brewery, which owns six midsize breweries in the country, including Protiv?nsk? Platan, Je?ek and Lobkowicz, reports a 13 percent increase in sales in 2010. Similarly, Humpolec-based Bernard Brewery claims to have almost doubled its 2009 beer production with 204,000 hectoliters in 2010.
Bernard spokesman Zden?k Mikul??ek said consumers are growing frustrated with the high costs and mass production of premium beers and are starting to look elsewhere for their beer.
"The large breweries are trying to produce the largest amount of beer for the least amount of money," he said. "And their costs for marketing, PR and logistics are influencing their prices. The customer feels this. They're looking for something special, different or interesting."
?SPS Director Jan Vesel? agreed that consumers are suffering from big brewery fatigue, which has caused their eyes to wander to the smaller beer makers over the past few years. But he stopped short of saying that the success of K and Bernard breweries signifies an overall move away from the bigger brands.
"It's true that you have a few small breweries announcing their successes, but you have more than 30 small breweries in this country. You're not hearing anything from them," Vesel? said. "When you're successful, you shout. When you're not, you're silent."
Plze?sk? Prazdroj, which produces Pilsner Urquell, Gambrinus and Kozel and controls nearly half of the domestic market, has acknowledged it is starting to feel the heat from consumers searching for cheaper beer.
"We're seeing a shift away from pub beer to beer from supermarkets, and that's having an impact on our sales, no doubt," said Ji?? Mare?ek, a spokesman for Plze?sk? Prazdroj. "You take the increased excise tax and combine it with consumers who have less disposable income, and that results in lower output. But the Czech beer market is very competitive, and there are a lot of good brands out there, small and large. We have to compete with all of them."
Vesel? said consumers' interest in the smaller breweries may be as much about variety as it is about dollars and cents. Consumers are becoming more interested in tasting different types of beers, and if it happens to save them money, all the better.
"You have two different groups of consumers," he said. "You have those who are struggling economically, and they're shifting from beer bought in pubs to beer bought over the counter, which is half the price. But you also have the group that wants to try something new. For generations, people drank Pilsner beers. In many pubs, you could only get one kind of beer, but now people are traveling more; they're looking for new things. These smaller breweries are taking notice of that. They know they can't compete with the big brewers, so they have to produce something different. In some cases, it's working."
K Brewery offers 50 different types of beers across their six brands, hoping to tap into the growing market of experimental beer connoisseurs. Spokeswoman Barbora Bure?ov? said her company's brands have benefited from their participation in "Cesta pivn?ch znalc?," a club for beer lovers who gather every two weeks at different restaurants around Prague to taste new Bohemian- and Moravian-brewed beers. More than 350 establishments have participated in the program, offering tastes of beers uncommon to the region, including semi-dark, red and wheat beers.
"People are no longer satisfied with the typical light ... beers and lagers," Bure?ov? said. "The small breweries are making a larger selection of products because consumers are interested in tasting beers they wouldn't normally try."
The larger breweries, Vesel? said, are starting to notice. The country's biggest beer makers are starting to branch out to create different variations in response to the growing sophistication among their consumers.
"You see companies like Budvar that never used to produce, for instance, 11 [degree] beer. Now they have to," he said. "Plze?sk? Prazdroj has an 11 [degree] beer and offers even dark and semi-dark varieties. When those companies are forced into trying new things, they're following the tide. They must. It's the new reality."
Although Plze?sk? Prazdroj's recent announcement that its signature brand, Pilsner Urquell, outsold all other foreign beers in Germany in 2010, the company finds itself taking measures to curb at least some of its sales in that country.
In response to rising domestic beer prices, some Czech store owners - many of them Vietnamese - have begun crossing the border to buy mass amounts of Pilsner at cheaper prices to resell on their own shelves. The company has launched distinct crates for beer sold in Germany and Austria that will not be accepted as returns in the Czech Republic. With no law in place to stop the resale of beers bought abroad, the company is seeking to decrease the price advantage of "imported" Czech beer.
"We can't change the law, so we're making changes with the crates," said Ji?? Mare?ek, spokesman for Plze?sk? Prazdroj.
?SPS Director Jan Vesel? said Pilsner's problem illustrates how the year-old tax on alcohol has damaged the domestic market. The tax, enacted by Parliament in January 2010, raised the tax on beer 33 percent.
"This tax increase is killing the hand that has always given golden eggs to this country," he said.
The company sent notices to retail partners about the new packaging. A special notice was sent out in Vietnamese.
The new crates will feature a picture of five green Pilsner bottles, whereas domestic crates display the Pilsner logo.
- Jack Buehrer
10 Feb. 2011