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. Sequoia-backed Bira beer left high & dry by supply glitches, funds crunch
It was only in January that Ankur Jain, founder of Bira 91, managed to raise $6 million in Series A funding . But that was not enough to streamline supply of Bira or get a new bottler. Now Jain is in the market looking for funds—at least $10 million. He wants to build an efficient back-end and logistics system to ensure that the current fiasco is not repeated.
“We’ll close the round within the next 2-4 weeks with funds from existing investors and new ones,” Jain said, declining to name the investors. In January, venture capital firm Sequoia Capital, along with a few individual investors invested in B9 Beverages, the firm that owns Bira.
The individual investors in the firm include Kunal Bahl and Rohit Bansal, co-founders of e-commerce firm Snapdeal, Ashish Dhawan, co-founder of private equity firm Chryscapital, Mayank Singhal of Singapore state investment arm Temasek Holdings, and Deepinder Goyal, founder of restaurant discovery platform Zomato.
“Raising money in the current market is not easy. We are glad that investors are willing, and have faith in what we are doing,” Jain said, adding that the latest round would help him to manage “things in a better way for the next year or so”. When Jain started Bira, he raised about $1.5 million from a bunch of friends.
When Sequoia Capital invested in January, its managing director Abhay Pandey had said in a statement that the venture capital fund had invested in the company as it wanted to back “the challenger in a large category with nice customer cohorts on basket size, retention and frequency”.
For Jain, the priority is to fix the supply issue. “There’s no quick fix. We never expected this much demand. And expansion into seven cities was based on the arrangements with the Haryana bottler which did not work out. At that point, we did not have any other option but to import from Belgium. Simply put, our supply could not keep up with the demand in the market, primarily for Bira White (one of the two variants the company sells),” said Jain.
During the last three quarters, Bira’s sales doubled every quarter and it is now selling around 50,000 cases a month (up from about 10,000 cases last summer) with about 60% of sales coming from pubs like Beer Café, Monkey Bar, Raasta, Pint Room and Barsoom, said Jain.
“Even today, we import everything from Belgium. Over the next 30-45 days, we’ll be able to streamline supply in key markets, starting with Delhi,” he said.
The company sealed a deal with a brewery in Indore, Madhya Pradesh, in April and has pumped in about Rs.4.5 crore to start producing Bira.
But that’s not enough. Jain has also closed a deal with a Greenfield brewery at Mysore, Karnataka which will start production later this year. “This brewery has a capacity of 5 lakh cases a month. Initially, 50% will be used for Bira, and we’ll look at ramping it up as and when needed. With these two units, I hope, things will be manageable till next summer,” he added.
Beer Café founder and chief executive Rahul Singh said, “Bira had evoked a phenomenal response. The feedback has always been excellent from people. Yes, it has been facing issues, partly because initial discounting that led to fund crunch, and them unprecedented demand leading to supply shortage.”
Despite such challenges, Jain launched Bira in new markets. In April, he launched the beer in New York city during Tribeca Film Festival, which was started by Jane Rosenthal, Robert De Niro and Craig Hatkoff in 2002 in response to the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Centre.
“New York is a risk I have taken. But Bira has the potential to make it in New York. True, it is a hyper-competitive market and it’s obviously not easy to make a cut among 800 odd craft beer brands. We are unapologetic about being ‘imagined in India’ and so far it is well accepted,” said Jain. New York as a market, however, does not require “huge investments”. “About 95% of the money we raise will be deployed for Indian market. The New York bet is slightly long term. It’s an aspiration. If we are successful in making Bira a success in New York City, bringing it straight from Belgium, that’s perfect. If it does not happen, it’s cool,” Jain said, adding that he will focus on establishing Bira in New York City over the next two years.
In India, Jain wants to go deeper in to the existing markets ensuring that supply constraints never come in the way. Come September, Bira will be available in new cities such as Hyderabad, Jaipur and Nagpur, besides existing markets of New Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Pune, Goa, Kolkata and Chandigarh.
Competitors, however, say that the supply issue was created to keep alive the buzz around the product. Anuj Kushwah, managing director of Kaama Impex Pvt. Ltd, which sells Witlinger—a craft beer, said Bira was not selling as much as the company claims. “The supply issue does not look normal,” he added.
“I know what competitors say. Why would I force create a supply shortage? The more I sell, the more money I make. People like Bira and that’s how demand rises every day,” said Jain, adding that the company will stick to its Rs.100 price point. “We wanted to create that price segment. We have successfully done that. And every Bira bottle makes money,” he said.
And Jain is not done yet. In August, once the Indore facility is in full production mode, he will launch 500ml cans for Bira and will increase its beer-tap network to 2,500 from 1,000 at present. By the end of the year, he wants to launch a third variant of Bira. “May be a tasty strong variant or a light one in the same price range,” he said.
17 Jun. 2016