Search
+

    Beer wars: The empire strikes back

    Synopsis

    UB and AB InBev are launching India-made wheat beers to take on startups like Bira, Simba.

    Agencies
    The largest-selling beverage in any microbrewery is a wheat beer,” said Rahul Singh, founder of the Beer Cafe chain, which gets about half its revenue from wheat beer.
    Bengaluru: United Breweries and Anheuser-Busch InBev are launching locally made wheat beer to take on over half a dozen rivals such as Bira 91, Simba and White Rhino that have challenged their dominance in the niche and fast-growing segment and get into microbrewery territory.

    Heineken-controlled UB and AB In-Bev, which together control three-fourths of India’s beer market, currently sell Edelweiss and Hoegaarden wheat beer, respectively, which are imported and carry price tags that are more than double that of their rivals.

    AB InBev has now set up an Indian unit, 7 Rivers Brewing Co., to introduce two wheat beer variants – Machaa and Veere – in the first week of November, while UB will start selling its locally produced wheat beer by the end of the year, said two people aware of the plans.

    may-the-forth


    “We see a growing trend of specialty wheat beers across the top urban centres in the country and are confident that our brewing heritage, coupled with our age-old craftsmanship of brewing the best quality beer, positions us well to curate an exciting new offering,” said Ben Verhaert, president-South Asia, of AB InBev, declining to give details on the launch.

    The new products will be brewed at its Aurangabad brewery with ingredients procured from Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Haryana, said officials. A 330-ml can will be priced at Rs 140, almost half the cost of an imported Hoegaarden equivalent.

    “UB is gearing up for a wheat beer launch before the end of the year and will be available in select cities, with Karnataka being the first market,” said an official privy to the company’s plans.

    Wheat beer has a larger proportion of wheat malt than malted barley. The number of Indian bars that increasingly stock Belgian Witbier and German Hefeweizen-style wheat beer is on the rise, helped by surging consumer demand.

    India is predominantly a market for strong beer, which accounts for 85% of the overall segment, although other varieties including craft and wheat beer are catching on. About 170 microbreweries have mushroomed in India from only two over the past decade.

    “The craft beer revolution has been the fastest in India as consumers have enjoyed its fresh and sweet aftertaste compared with filtered lagers.

    The largest-selling beverage in any microbrewery is a wheat beer,” said Rahul Singh, founder of the Beer Cafe chain, which gets about half its revenue from wheat beer.

    Bira, which launched about four years ago in the wheat segment, has managed to acquire an over 5% share in key markets despite the dominance of Kingfisher, Budweiser and Carlsberg.

    “Beer giants don’t want to be late in the game. They want to build their offering, erode the edge of microbrewery territory and beat the competition with the vibe. They also have the bandwidth of large-scale distribution which will bring down the price-point of craft beer for the consumer,” said Singh.
    (Catch all the Business News, Breaking News Events and Latest News Updates on The Economic Times.)

    Also Read

    5 Comments on this Story

    Shri Mahesh332 days ago
    TIME TO BREW THOUSANDS OF LOCAL BEERS ALL OVER INDIA LIKE IN GERMANY AND BELGIUM. LETS FORM THOUSANDS OF BEER START UPS AND COME UP IN MSME SECTOR. LETS MAKE WHISKEY AND RUM ALL OVER INDIA. BETTER SELL VALUE ADDED PRODUCTS THAN RAW MATERIALS. MASSIVE MARKETS EVERYWHERE. JAI HIND.
    Vaithianathan R M332 days ago
    Foreign companies like In-Bev good to know that they are procuring locally to make Indian versions. Micro breweries must also compete with this rising challenge to keep their share in the states they are operating. Drinkers, support the local versions and Indian brewed variants by the global giants. Export them too to Asean and beyond. Is anyone trying to make wine from rice, the Japs call it Sake. We have abundant rice. The Irish brew pochine from Potatoes, are we trying new spirits to increase our manufacturing base and creating employment.
    Praker 332 days ago
    They should manufacture and sell like in Germany.. fresh.. own recipe.. local raw materials.. cheap..
    The Economic Times