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.
India. Dutch beer giant Heineken appoints JM Financial to help increase stake in United Breweries
Mumbai-based JM, which successfully helped Diageo buy out United Spirits in 2013 as one of the key buy-side advisers, is now back advising Heineken. Its role will be crucial if the Dutch firm is to buy the remaining stake in UB it needs for majority control. The Dutch brewer is already the largest shareholder in United Breweries, maker of Kingfisher beer, with a 42.38% stake. It has been keen to take it beyond 50% either by buying directly from liquor baron Vijay Mallya or his creditors.
Mallya, his family members and associate companies together own 32.89% of the company and 47.68% of that is pledged, according to data sourced from BSE till December 31, 2015.
Mallya directly owns 8% in UB but 98.11% of that is pledged. UB's current market cap is Rs 20,899 crore. The market value of the pledged shares is Rs 3,217 crore at Monday's closing price of Rs 790.45 apiece.
As the heat on Mallya's business empire rises, and he faces lengthy questioning by the country's investigative agencies, Heineken would be keen to mop up pledged shares that are held with banks and financial institutions as a guarantee for the Kingfisher airline loans. Over the last one year, the creditors have been periodically exercising their rights and selling these shares in the open market to recover dues from the erstwhile liquor baron and Heineken has used those opportunities to mop them up. But with JM Financial on board, Heineken will negotiate directly with lenders as they seek to proactively cash them, said three sources aware of the matter.
In 2009, Heineken and Mallya unveiled a partnership with both controlling 37.5% stake each. Both had signed a "standstill agreement" that ensured equal shareholding and joint management. Both sides also had equal board representation with Heineken getting the post of chief financial officer.
But Mallya's troubles emanating from the grounded Kingfisher Airlines gave the foreign partner an opportunity to slowly raise stake in the company, which accounts for roughly half of the domestic beer consumption.
Sources say Heineken has gained rights to full management control as "equal and joint management clause" no longer exists. However, they added, Heineken has been in no tearing hurry to disturb the current setting. But the current situation is forcing them to take precautions.
India's largest lender by assets, State Bank of India, along with a consortium of banks had served notice to Mallya, defunct Kingfisher Airlines and his holding company, United Breweries Holdings, as wilful defaulters for not repaying Rs 9,000 crore loans. Banks are forbidden from giving loans to companies where a wilful defaulter is on the board and United Breweries board may feel itself under pressure to do something about Mallya's presence.
Heineken may also be feeling pressure of another kind. While it has no significant quarrel or dispute with Mallya, the Dutch giant feels duty-bound to protect its most precious investment in the country from raiders and opportunists willing to fish in troubled waters. The last thing Heineken needs is for a rival to jump in and buy the pledged shares and that could explain the reason behind the JM appointment and the need to increase its stake.
In November 2015, YES Bank sold 4.25 lakh shares of UB to Heineken International BV for Rs 39.48 crore through block trades on the stock exchange. In Jan 2016, ICICI Bank, the country's largest private sector lender, picked up 1.95 million shares of United Breweries Limited for a little over Rs 186 crore through an open market transaction.
Last July, Heineken acquired a decisive 3.12% stake offloaded by United Spirits that freed them from a previous shareholder pact with Mallya. Prior to that it had already picked up shares and had increased its shareholding by 2%.
UB group and JM Financial declined to comment. Mails sent to Heineken and Mallya did not elicit a reply till the time of going to press. Text messages sent to Mallya also did not generate any response.
"I don't think there is hostility between Mallya and Heineken top brass but their hands are forced. Instead of a third party picking them up, they would like to corner as much as they can as the situation has become very volatile," said an official in the know. "Heineken would not miss this opportunity. They are getting their act ready in case of such eventuality," he added.
"They will also have to opt for an open offer if they acquire more than 5% equity through the creeping acquisition route. A local advisor will be helpful to navigate the rules and regulations," added another source on condition of anonymity as the talks are still in private domain.
Asia-Pacific, which accounts for almost a fifth of Heineken's operating profit, was the company's fastest growing market in the first half of last year. With no significant competition from local peers, global majors - Danish brewer Carlsberg and SABMiller Plc - has been gaining market share.
India's beer market is growing significantly faster than the world average, largely because it is still very small. Indians consume on average about 2 litres of beer a year, compared with 18 litres in Asia and 57 litres in western Europe, a note from rating agency Moody's said in July of 2015. Two-thirds of Indians don't drink alcohol at all, often for religious or cultural reasons, but rapid urbanisation and a fast-growing middle class are changing consumption habits, making India an attractive market for global brewers.
15 Mar. 2016