United Breweries to uncork low alcohol, fruit flavoured beer in India

Written by Reghu Balakrishnan | Mumbai, May 8 | Updated: May 10 2008, 05:16am hrs
Anticipating a fierce battle in the Indian beer market with the entry of global brands in future, United Breweries (UB), which dominates the Indian beer market, is expanding its beer product portfolio by launching a few first-of-its-kind brands in the country. The company plans to launch fruit flavoured beer brands and low alcohol brands in India within a year and is learnt to have been in discussions with a couple of foreign liquor manufacturers as well as in-house research firms to outsource the technology in India. In the 155 million cases beer market in India, UB holds about 47% with its brands such as Kingfisher, Sand Piper, Zingaro, Kalyani Black Label and London Pilsner.

The Indian beer industry is vibrant with the entry of popular global brands. In January, FE had reported UK-based Cobra Beers plans to launch its alcohol free beer and fruit-flavoured premium lagers, under the name of Cobra Bite in India. Asia Pacific Breweries, which had launched its flagship brands such as Tiger and Barons Strong Brew, would launch other brands, Anchor and ABC Extra Stout soon. SABMiller, the worlds third largest beer maker, is learnt to be launching its Dutch premium beer, Grolsch, in India soon.

Kalyan Ganguly, president & managing director, United Breweries Limited (UBL), told FE, We want to address all kinds of consumers in the industry. We aim the new brands at those who want to consume a different taste of beer, or prefer less alcoholic content. We will launch three more new verities of beers like fruit flavoured and low alcohol brands. We have not yet decided which flavours to be used. As part of expansions and new launches, UB will increase its present capacity of 100 million cases to 130 million.

Though the Indian beer market is growing at the rate of 20-25%, it comprises only 4% of the total alcohol beverages market in the country. In India, the per capita consumption of beer is only 0.6 litres, while in the US, it is 70 litres and in China, 23 litres.