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Global hop market

A 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 Russia

Germany 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.

Cheers to the Asian beer market

It was probably a change of mind when Carlsberg dropped its "Probably the best beer in the world" slogan for "'That calls for a Carlsberg".

Mr Soren Ravn, managing director, Carlsberg, explained: "We are coming with a brand new communication so we can help fuel the (market) growth in Singapore."

The Danish brewer acknowledges that Singapore is one of its key markets for the Carlsberg branded beer, with the high number of expatriates here who know about international beer brands and the different beer types.

But analysts say markets like Singapore are just part of an Asian regional strategy in which brewers are actually looking further north at China, which consumes 40 billion litres of beer annually, or about one quarter of global beer consumption.

Research firm Spire Research & Consulting says China's beer consumption is set to expand at a compounded rate of 5 to 10 per cent over the next three to five years.

The country's economic growth is overflowing into a booming beer industry as its growing middle class and increasing discretionary income makes it the biggest consumer of beer in Asia and the fastest rising.

"China is very much a localised beer market, so conditions differ very much by locality and barriers to entry differ according to locality as well," said Mr Leon Perera, group managing director at Spire.

"Very often access to distribution, to retail outlets, tends to be influenced by local authorities, by local companies. That's why the preferred entry route for any foreign companies is through acquisition," he added.

Experts also point to other growing markets in the region like Vietnam and India. That is reflected in companies' expectations, like Carlsberg, which hopes Asia will account for up to one quarter of its group global revenue in five years' time.

That is up from the 5 to 10 per cent that Asia contributed last year to the company's US$11 billion (S$13.8 billion) sales.

But Mr Perera cautioned that the outlook just might not be so bubbly.

"The headwind or the obstacle that this growth might encounter … is really health consciousness, across all F&B research, as an economy matures, health consciousness increases to the point that it becomes an absolutely critical factor, affecting purchasing decisions by consumers," he said.

11 Apr. 2011



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