Carlsberg eyes 10% of Indias beer market in couple of years

Written by Ajay Sukumaran | Bangalore | Updated: Feb 25 2013, 17:31pm hrs
The India arm of Danish brewer Carlsberg is eyeing a 10% share of the country's 2.1-billion-litre beer market in the next couple of years by pushing its strong lagers into more cities, especially in key states like Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra. Carlsberg is currently the third largest brewer in India with an estimated 6% share, but is still far behind its two larger rivals, United Breweries (UBL) and SABMiller.

Carlsberg's focus on strong beer is only a couple of years old and rides on brands, such as Tuborg Strong and the premium-priced Elephant, both competing in the country's best-selling beer segment, dominated by UBL's Kingfisher Strong and SABMiller's Haywards 5000 and Knockout.

While the country's beer market is estimated to have grown 13.5% in CY12, the Danish brewer claims a 40% growth in volume in the same period. Strong beer contains alcohol content of up to 8%, while it is about 5% in the milder lagers.

Overall, we are pleased we have grown our marketshare and reached a level of 7% in India, excluding Tamil Nadu. The fuel of our growth has been Tuborg Strong in particular, said Soren Lauridsen, managing director, Carlsberg India. Tuborg is now the number one international brand in India and that is an accomplishment which has been reached in 3.5 years.

Carlsberg does not operate in Tamil Nadu, where beer sales are estimated at 270 million litres annually, as it does not have a brewery in that state. India's beer industry is expected to reach volumes of 2.3 billion litre in 2013, according to a projection made by market research company Euromonitor International a year ago. The Vijay Mallya-led UBL, the largest beer company in India, controls about 55% of the market, while SABMiller accounts for around 24%. When asked how long it would take to reach a marketshare of 10% in India, Lauridsen said he hoped to achieve it in a couple of years.

He added that the strategy of focussing on a few states has resulted in market share increases in Delhi, West Bengal and Kerala. We are not trying to win in all states at the same time because we are a smaller player in the beer market and we have limited resources, especially if you compare to UBL and SABMiller, he said.

For us, the first part is to make sure there is a still a lot to do in the upcountry part of the market and in certain states where we still have market share below the country average. We have a lot of ground to plough with both Carlsberg Elephant and Tuborg Strong and that's the primary focus for 2013.