Danish brewer Carlsberg saw volume sales jump 20 per cent on the back of rising demand for its strong beer brands even as the overall beer market shrank 5 per cent during the July-September quarter.
The company plans to set up a brewery to support growing sales and compensate for shutting down an operational plant in Bihar after the state introduced prohibition.
“India continues to perform strongly and achieved 20 per cent volume growth in spite of the alcohol ban in Bihar. Also here, Tuborg remains an important driver of the growth. We achieved a record high market share in India in Q3 of 19 per cent,” Carlsberg CEO Cees’t Hart said in an investors call on Wednesday.
Carlsberg is the third largest player in India, trailing market leader United Breweries which has 51 per cent share and SABMiller with 23 per cent share of the market. Unlike most other markets, where Carlsberg’s top seller is the milder version of lager, the brewer has been focusing on brands such as Tuborg Strong and Elephant in India because strong beer accounts for 80 per cent of country’s overall sales volume of 300 million cases.
The company registered the fastest growth among the top five brewers in 2015, with volumes rising by 18 per cent, as it benefited in part from innovation targeting local preferences for strong beer, according to Euromonitor. However, competition is set to intensify over the next few years with Heineken raising its stake in India’s largest brewer to control majority of UB while AB In-Bev’s acquisition of SABMiller has provided Budweiser, the second fastest growing top ten brands in India in 2015 after Tuborg, with a considerably extended distribution network.
Carslberg has been focusing on cities, keeping its brand portfolio limited and expanding its manufacturing footprint. It has doubled its reach to 40,000 outlets but maintained focus on the top Indian 140 cities in the past five years.