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.
Finally, an Indian beer to savour
The husband and I recently began dating again. Once a week, Babyjaan is packed off to the in-laws, where she indulges in otherwise banned activities such as eating dinner on the bed while watching Chhota Bheem on television.
So there I was, on a Friday evening, riding behind the husband on the Bullet I had cajoled him to buy some years ago (because how can anyone buy any other Indian bike), headed to the neighbourhood store to pick up my other favourite Indian brand, which also begins with a B.
The reason I head out every time I want to buy Indian craft beer Bira 91 is because I can’t stay away from it when I stock it at home.
After becoming addicted to Bira 91 Blonde (hoppy Czech-style pilsner) and Bira 91 White (Belgian-style wheat but more citrusy), I’ve happily switched from 571-year-old Hoegaarden to this toddler upstart. I can’t wait for their pale ale to be launched in October.
While one has always been immensely comforted by and stayed faithful to the global greats (Hoegaarden, Asahi, Guinness, Schneider Weisse, Stella Artois, etc.), the American beer revolution in the past decade has driven me to a string of one-night stands, some of which have developed into longer dalliances. And I can’t get enough. A visit to the US is characterized by daily infidelity; meaningful relationships have been forged with the brews from Dogfish Head and ales with endearing names such as Arrogant Bastard. Thanks to a friend, I drank Gandhi-Bot before non-resident Indians forced the brewery to change the name to G-Bot and replace the brilliant robotic depiction of Mahatma Gandhi on its can.
India’s beer scene, especially in Bengaluru, has always been characterized by the Kingfisher mafia (sorry, we only serve Kingfisher ma’am). Peroni is marketed as a “designer” brew here—surely even the Italians know it’s no fun? Thankfully, Bengaluru also has brewpubs such as Toit and Arbor Brewing Company where the taps overflow with all hues from pale to pumpkin. Seriously, Toit brews a special ale every Halloween that is infused with roasted pumpkins, spices and jaggery. The creepy ambience is courtesy Dracula, a bhatakti atma (wandering soul) dressed in a white sari and assorted other monsters. Personally, I prefer the zero fuss Toit Weiss, available through the year. At Arbor, it’s usually the Belgian Tripel or Phat Abbot before we rush across the road to watch the latest B-movie, which is instantly rendered several degrees more enjoyable. My first love was Dansberg, named after its equally loveable owner Danny Denzongpa, drunk alongside coffee liqueur in Sikkim while on a college holiday.
Now, Bira is the Indian beer I bring home, satisfaction guaranteed.
Bira 91’s two beers were launched about a year ago by Cerana Beverages (now B9 Beverages Pvt. Ltd), a company that previously imported craft beers from around the world. Even hard-nosed venture capital firm Sequoia Capital invested Rs.40 crore in B9 Beverages Pvt. Ltd in January. The beverage company used a chunk of this money to set up a brewery in Indore, and by June, Bira will be not just “Imagined in India”, as their tag line now says, but also made here. Until now, Bira was manufactured in Belgium and imported home, so some folks refer to it as a Belgian beer trying to be Indian. The company’s response: iPhones are made in China, but does that make them Chinese?
Nobody can dispute Bira’s success. One year after its launch, the beer has started selling 50,000 cases a month. It’s become the largest selling premium beer (competitors include Kingfisher Ultra, Peroni, Budweiser, Carlsberg, Heineken) in bars and restaurants in Delhi and Mumbai, where it’s available in draught and bottle. Incidentally, Bira’s highest sales are logged at Tamasha Bar, located right next to the Mint and Hindustan Times office in Delhi #justsaying.
Its blue/red bottle caps featuring the Bira monkey are slowly acquiring cult status on Instagram, where the images include a banana and chocolate chip Bira bottle cap birthday cake for Mona and a woman wearing a Bira crown choker (or maybe that’s Mona in person?). Bira’s growth has come without a traditional marketing campaign.
Now the company has an ambitious plan to replicate this word-of-mouth success in New York, where it is an official sponsor of the Tribeca Film Festival this year and where it will be available from next month. Who knows whether or not consumers will pick Bira from the hundred or so beers available at the Whole Foods supermarket, but Bira founder and chief executive officer, B9 Beverages Pvt. Ltd, Ankur Jain, is determined that it won’t be the “Cobra of craft”—or the Indian beer that everybody drinks mostly with their tandoori chicken.
Thirty-five-year-old Jain grew up in Delhi with an urban planner father and an interior designer mother. He studied computer science in the US and his past life includes a stint at Motorola developing applications for mobile phones and a healthcare management start-up. His father couldn’t understand why his son gave up that life, returned to India and began to import beer in 2008. He’s since come around.
Jain says his weight has risen from 72kg to 85kg courtesy all the beer tasting he does. “My friends sometimes joke that the 91 in the name refers to my weight,” he says. It represents the country code, actually. Jain’s an even-tempered jovial chap, the kind of guy who keeps friends for life. He went to school with his chief operating officer.
As for Babyjaan, she won’t know the joys of Bira for many years to come, but she’s a huge fan of Royal Enfield and can recognize the sound of a Bullet a mile away. She knows how to operate the keys, has her own helmet and avoids dismounting on the silencer side; her life’s ambition is to grow tall enough to kick-start the bike.
Thankfully, they say, it’s difficult to do a wheelie on a Bullet.
8 Apr. 2016