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.
Asahi seen as frontrunner to buy StarBev -sources
* Sale of CVC's StarBev could come within two weeks
* StarBev sale could raise about $3 bln for CVC Capital
By Victoria Howley and David Jones
LONDON, March 1 (Reuters) - Japanese brewer Asahi is emerging as a frontrunner to buy eastern European brewer StarBev in a deal expected to fetch up to $3 billion for private equity owner CVC Capital Partners, people familiar with the matter said on Thursday.
The private equity group, which bought StarBev in December 2009, is gearing up to sell the business in around two weeks after receiving approaches from a number of global brewing groups, the people said.
"Asahi have put a big price on the table, and we would expect a resolution in around two weeks time," said one person involved in the sale process.
All parties either declined to comment or could not immediately be reached for comment.
CVC bought the business from the world's biggest brewer Anheuser-Busch InBev, calling it StarBev after its Czech beer Staropramen, and although AB-InBev has the "right of first offer," bankers and analysts believe it will not be tempted as it has its eyes on bigger beer markets.
The most interest in StarBev so far has come from Asahi, Carlsberg, SABMiller and AB-InBev, while other brewers such as Heineken and Molson Coors were less enthusiastic, the people said.
"We would expect a result for someone in the next two weeks, and all the talk is of Asahi," one of the people said.
Although the business is in countries like the Czech Republic, Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary and has been hit by recent weakness in eastern European economies, it is still seen as a long-term growth story in a rapidly consolidating global brewing world.
Other Japanese drinks groups Kirin and privately owned Suntory have shown less interest. Kirin bought Brazil's second biggest brewer Schincariol for nearly $4 billion last year, while Suntory is not keen on buying into European beer, the people added.
Asahi, the brewer of Japan's top-selling beer "Super Dry" has been on the acquisition trail buying up New Zealand ready-to-drink cocktail maker Independent Liquor last summer for $1.3 billion in its biggest ever deal, and in recent years has bought a stake in China's Tsingtao and the Australian business of Schweppes.
Last year, Asahi president Naoki Izumiya signalled more overseas deals were likely and, after looking in China, Asia and Oceania, it would search outside those areas as it aims for over 20 percent of its sales from foreign markets by 2015.
AB-InBev sold the business to cut its debts after buying U.S. brewer Anheuser-Busch in 2008 for $52 billion, and analysts said it would be reluctant to buy it back as it does not have leading positions in the big eastern European beer markets of Romania and the Czech Republic.
The Belgium-based group makes around 80 percent of its profits from North and South America, controlling half the United States beer market and two-thirds of the Brazilian one, and these two areas with China and Russia are its key focus.
"We would be stunned if ABI were to buy back assets it sold to a private equity firm less than three years ago ... ABI has said its focus is on the U.S., Brazil and China, and we would not expect them to expand at this stage in central Europe," said Liberum Capital analyst Pablo Zuanic
Other European brewers like SABMiller, Heineken and Carlsberg would face anti-trust problems as all are major players in the region, with a SABMiller-StarBev combination potentially having a 63 percent market share of the Czech Republic beer market, 49 percent in Hungary and 39 percent in Romania.
SABMiller had considered linking up with its new Turkish ally Anadulo Efes to try and overcome anti-trust concerns but progress has been difficult. The London-based brewer swapped its Russian and Ukrainian operations for a 24 percent stake in Turkey's top brewer last year.
Amsterdam-based Heineken would have market shares of 44 percent in Romania, 46 percent in Hungary and 51 percent in Bulgaria in a StarBev linkup, while Denmark's Carlsberg would have 46 percent in Bulgaria, 76 percent in Serbia and 47 percent in Croatia, analysts have calculated.
The level of interest from trade buyers, means little scope for private equity to compete as they lack the level of potential costs savings a big brewer can achieve, analysts said.
CVC bought the business for around $2.2 billion with potential future payment of as much as $800 million based on CVC's return on its investment.
In Europe, the four brewing stocks closed higher, AB-InBev gained 1.6 percent to 51.21 euros, SABMiller was up 1.5 percent at 2,586 pence, Heineken edged forward 0.6 percent to 39.86 euros and Carlsberg advanced 0.7 percent to 442.30 crowns.
7 Mar. 2012