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.
It’s all but cheers to Foster’s as global beer economics scales new heights
The modus operandi of private equity operators is to buy a business with a strong cash flow, squeeze costs, bulk up the revenue and flip it after three to five years through a trade sale or float.
In the case of Independent, it has been 4? long years since Pacific Equity Partners and Unitas jointly acquired the alcopop maker, whose brands include Woodstock, Vodka Cruiser and Purple Goanna, for a massive $NZ1.3 billion, dramatically out-bidding trade buyers such as Brown-Forman, Lion Nathan, Diageo and Asahi.
Advertisement: Story continues below The initial attraction of Independent was its strong cash flows and the fact that Australia was an anomaly in the global alcohol market. The penetration of ready-to-drink products was twice as high as that of any other market.
But the global financial crisis, a radical change in taxes on ready-to-drinks and changing consumer tastes slashed revenue and forced the private equity owners to pump in up to $50 million in fresh equity through the issue of new shares in New Zealand company Flavoured Beverages Group Holdings.
Fast forward to today and the company has been busy cutting costs and expanding into the US and Asia, helping its earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) surpass what they were before the global financial crisis and tax changes.
It is now putting the word out for a partner to help accelerate growth in international markets. Names touted include Bright Foods, Coca-Cola Amatil, Suntory and Asahi.
While UBS is busy looking for a suitable deal for its private equity clients, and playing on the fact that once Foster's is sold Independent is the last big alcohol business left for sale, SAB Miller, along with Foster's shareholders and hedge funds, are trying to find the magic price that would clinch a sale of Foster's beer business.
For SAB, its final bid price will factor in the cost of losing two lucrative beer licences, Stella and Corona, which contribute more than $100 million a year to Foster's pre-tax profit. While there is no guarantee that Foster's would lose these licences with a change in ownership, they are such powerful contracts that any potential buyer would need to factor in the possibility.
The Stella beer licence is to expire in the next year and competitors will no doubt start lobbying the owner of Stella, Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world's largest brewer. The chances of Foster's keeping the licence, worth about $15 million a year, are far from guaranteed.
Indeed, since the global merger of Anheuser-Busch and Inbev, the new entity's strategy is to appoint one brewer in each region to manage its licences.
Right now, its beer licences in Australia and New Zealand are split between beer duopolies Lion Nathan and Foster's. But it tipped the balance in Lion Nathan's favour when it granted Lion the licence to produce and distribute its Budweiser brands in Australia and New Zealand. Lion also has the licence for Becks.
Industry sources suggest Foster's generates more than $80 million in earnings a year from Corona.
Foster's EBITDA in 2010 was $1.2 billion and Merrill Lynch estimates in 2011 it will be $894 million.
Some analysts value Stella and Corona licences at between $350 million and $380 million. Lion Nathan holds the Corona licence in New Zealand.
If SAB succeeds in buying Foster's, the issue will be whether Modelo wants to stick with the new owner or go to someone else, particularly if Anheuser-Busch InBev - which owns 50 per cent of Corona - decides to increase its stake in Modelo in what could become the next chapter of the global consolidation of the beer industry. If this happens, the Corona brand would then be in the Anheuser-Busch Inbev portfolio.
Another factor is Foster's IT system, which is the backbone of the business and is currently joined at the hip with its separately listed wine business.
Foster's and Treasury Wine Estates are currently trying to split the integrated platform but this will take until 2013 at a cost of $42 million.
Any new owner would want to accelerate this as the core operation of both businesses, including orders, delivery, receivables and sales, are enmeshed on one platform.
Foster's full-year results will be out in August and the market isn't expecting anything too flash as the whole market is down. While Foster's will no doubt try and pull a few rabbits out of the hat, and claim momentum and highlight hidden value, if Foster's boss John Pollaers fails to convince investors of growth prospects, pressure will mount on the board to accept a takeover - fast.
Foster's has disappointed investors for years. The latest ACNielsen figures show market share is below 50 per cent, after being 54 per cent a few years ago.
The reason? A lack of product innovation, changing consumer tastes, the rise of private label brands in the supermarket chains, the entrance of new competitors, poor management and parallel importing.
In beer economics, less production volume means less recovery of production fixed costs. It's all to do with losing or winning scale economies.
And that momentum has been steadily moving against Foster's towards Lion Nathan, Coopers and the supermarket chains. Time has run out for Foster's; it is now about getting the best price.
27 Jun. 2011