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.
China’s taste for craft offers fizz for global brewers
China is key for the biggest international beer brands as growth elsewhere stalls, accounting for half of the industry's global volume increase last year.
But while China drinks a quarter of the world's beer, it accounts for only 3 percent of brewers' profits, Deutsche Bank analysts estimate.
"The premium segment will be an important battle ground for brewers going forward because it will be the main growth driver," said Shanghai-based Rabobank analyst Katharine Song.
"Brewers are adjusting their strategy to focus more on high-end products."
Until recently, volume and distribution networks have been the name of the game, driving global industry consolidation through ever larger deals and crushing margins.
In 2004, about half the world market by volume was controlled by the biggest 10 brewers, according to industry data. By 2014, 47 percent of volumes and three-quarters of profits were controlled by just four brewers - AB InBev (ABI.BR), SABMiller (SAB.L), Heineken NV (HEIN.AS) and Carlsberg (CARLb.CO).
That number is soon to drop to three, with the planned $100 billion-plus (71 billion pound) takeover of SAB Miller by AB Inbev.
FOLLOW THE MONEY
Last week's sale by AB InBev of SAB Miller's 49 percent stake in China's top selling brand Snow to China Resources Beer for an unexpectedly low $1.6 billion was primarily aimed at satisfying regulators and wrapping up the merger.
Critically, it also freed up SAB Miller to focus on more lucrative bets in the Chinese market than a beer which sells at 50 U.S. cents a bottle, or less.
The focus on premium products reflects a shift in China's 1.4 billion consumers, who now want more tailored and individual products from fast-food to travel - a headache for firms from KFC-owner Yum Brands Inc (YUM.N) to luxury goods maker Prada SpA (1913.HK).
Premium beers are expected to make up over a third of the $80 billion Chinese market by the end of the decade - compared to less than 10 percent in 2010.
Imported high-end beers saw a 60 percent jump last year as consumers splashed out on brews such as "Hop Zombie" and "Armageddon IPA".
For drinkers like bar owner Chen Jiaqi, who flew over 400 miles (640 km) to Shanghai from the central Chinese city of Wuhan to sample a New Zealand craft ale, it is about individuality.
"I think more and more Chinese customers are about the flavour of the beer itself, and if the beer is unique and rare then they will choose it," said Chen.
That comes at a cost.
A bottle of craft ale costs around 30 yuan ($4.6) in Shanghai, around ten times more than the cheapest mass-market beers from Tsingtao Brewery Co Ltd or CR Beer.
"It is rare and unique and the flavours are better," said Hao Xiaowei, a 33-year-old nurse, while she drank a Bavarian wheat beer at a craft bar in downtown Shanghai.
"It's worth spending the extra money."
That willingness to splash out has attracted a host of small craft brewers such as Scotland BrewDog and New York's Brooklyn Brewery, who have started actively targeting China.
"China's on the hit list to tackle in the near future," said Luke Raven, director at Ilkley Brewery in northern England which has craft beers with names like "Hanging Stone" and "Holy Cow".
Craft beers won't appeal to all, but a willingness to spend more to stand out from the crowd will also support mainstream imported brands like Budweiser, Heineken or Japan's Asahi.
Premium beer sales grew just under 25 percent last year versus 7.5 percent growth in the overall market, Euromonitor data shows.
"Sometimes people choose premium beers – Heineken or Carlsberg for example - because it has a marketing angle or image, a certain attraction like going for a coffee to Starbucks," said Michael Jordan, brewmaster for Boxing Cat Brewery in Shanghai, which makes craft beers using local ingredients such as Sichuan peppercorns and goji berries.
"It's a kind of status symbol."
9 Mar. 2016