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 Mixes Drinks as Japan’s Beer Market Shrinks
In an era when Budweiser is sold by a Belgium-based company and California’s Lagunitas IPA is partly Dutch-owned, Japanese beer has remained in Japan’s hands, away from the global consolidation party.
The head of the biggest-selling Japanese beer maker says he wants to keep it that way.
“The subtle taste and quality of beer that the Japanese favor can be created only under Japanese management,” said Akiyoshi Koji, president of Asahi Group Holdings Ltd., in an interview. “If a foreign company takes control of a Japanese maker, there is a risk of the brand’s credibility being harmed.”
The planned merger of the world’s two biggest beer makers, Anheuser-Busch InBev NV and SABMiller, has brought renewed attention to global consolidation. Japan is something of an anomaly because its top players have been the same for decades. Tokyo-based Asahi and its leading rival in Japan, Kirin Holdings Co., are minnows globally but big fish in their own pond.
That pond is getting smaller. Japan’s population is shrinking and younger consumers are heading toward wine or cocktails instead of beer. Shipments of beer and related brews including low-malt beer came to about 425 million cases in 2015, compared with a peak of 573 million cases in 1994, according to the Brewers Association of Japan.
The answer, say Asahi and its main Japanese rivals, is to branch out into other drinks and try to build a global business focused on premium brands.
However difficult it may be for foreigners to re-create the taste of Japanese beer, Mr. Koji is betting billions of dollars that his company can do so with Italian and Dutch beer. Asahi plans to acquire European brands Peroni and Grolsch for $2.9 billion from SABMiller, divestitures that SABMiller is making to get regulatory clearance for the Anheuser-Busch InBev deal.
“We aren’t planning to engage in a head-on fight with products in a similar price range” to those from AB InBev, Mr. Koji said. “We would like to challenge our global competitors with value-added products.”
Mr. Koji said Asahi had room to make further acquisitions, although he declined to say whether he was interested in Eastern European assets of SABMiller that are also up for sale. An Asahi spokesman said the company could spend roughly $3 billion to $4 billion for further acquisitions and still stay within its debt target.
The Anheuser-Busch InBev-SABMiller combination would create a giant brewer with around 30% global market share by volume. That compares with 1.2% for Asahi, putting it in 10th place, according to Euromonitor.
The megamerger could pose “immense competition to the Japanese beer companies,” said Ranjan Kumar Singh, an analyst at Allied Market Research. “The big players are using these strategic moves to boost profitability by cutting costs.”
Asahi is still growing, despite slower sales of its flagship Super Dry brand. The company has recently posted steadily rising revenue and profit, with sales of ¥1.86 trillion ($18.2 billion) in 2015. Its market capitalization of ¥1.6 trillion slightly exceeds Kirin’s.
It has kept growing partly by diversifying into products such as wine and baby food, and by adding beer alternatives that cost less because of lower taxes. These include “new genre” products brewed from peas or corn to avoid Japan’s taxes on malt.
Such peculiarities in taxes and distribution have turned the nation’s beer market into another example of what locals call the Galapagos phenomenon, in which Japan evolves in isolation from global trends. That is another reason Mr. Koji is confident foreigners wouldn’t try to buy Asahi.
“I wouldn’t say there’s no risk of being acquired,” he said. “But for foreign brewers, it would be extremely difficult to buy a Japanese maker and further boost profitability.”
AB InBev set up an office in Tokyo about a year ago to work more effectively with local partners that handle its beer brands in Japan, regional director Toon Van der Veer said in an email. He declined to comment on whether AB InBev would be interested in directly challenging Japanese beer makers in their home market.
Japan’s other top beer makers, which include Suntory Holdings Ltd. and Sapporo Holdings Ltd., have tried similar strategies of holding on to their core beer market at home while branching out abroad.
“AB InBev’s acquisition of SABMiller could change power relationships of the beer industry. However, it won’t directly affect Suntory because we mainly focus on premium beer, as well as soft drinks, health food and other alcohol,” Suntory Holdings president Takeshi Niinami said in an email.
Suntory, which has long had a more diversified portfolio than Asahi or Kirin, further broadened its business through the $16 billion acquisition of U.S. whiskey maker Beam in 2014.
Kirin, which bought a 55% stake in Myanmar Brewery for $560 million last year, says it is focusing on cost cuts to counteract a shrinking home market. Part of its strategy has echoes of the global consolidation trend, but it is consolidation with a Japanese flavor: combining certain operations rather than entire companies. Kirin and Asahi recently said they would open a joint logistics center and share trains to ship their beer beginning next year.
1 Sep. 2016