The India Report
Comment of the Day

October 21 2013

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

The India Report

Thanks to Deepak Lalwani for this edition of his ever interesting note. The full report is posted in the Subscriber's Area but here is a section on the Indian beverages sector
Contrary to popular belief in the West which has an image of mild alcohol consumption in India, strong beer with alcohol content of 5-8% accounted for 83% of all beer sold in India last year, according to research firm Mintel. This figure, industry experts say, is the biggest strong beer share of any major market. Brewers expect this is to grow to 90% within five years. India is the world's third-fastest growing beer market. Retail value was over $ 3 bn last year according to Mintel, which expects the figure to more than double by 2017, with volume growing 36%. Carlsberg, for example, sells their Tuborg Booker strong only in India. Kingfisher Strong (8% alcohol), made by India's United Breweries, is the country's best selling beer. Only a third of India's 1.2 bn people drink alcohol regularly, and most of them are men. Hence, the appeal to masculinity and a macho image of drinking strong beer. Two-thirds of Indians do not drink alcohol at all, mainly for religious and cultural reasons. Whisky dominates alcohol consumption in India. Although beer accounts for just 5% of alcohol consumption in India, Carlsberg expects the country to become one of the world's top ten beer markets within seven years. According to United Breweries per capita beer consumption averages 1.7 litres a year. This compares with 99 litres in the UK, 110 litres in Germany and 157 litres in the Czech Republic. With a young population where more than 50% of India's population is under 30, beer is increasingly seen as the younger person's drink. Whisky is seen by India's youth as a drink choice of "Dad and Uncles". Rapid urbanisation, a fast-growing middle class and sheer numbers add to India's attraction for global brewers faced with sluggish growth in their traditional markets of USA and Europe.

Eoin Treacy's view Consumption of alcohol tends to trend higher with disposable income not least because it is so often associated with leisure and status. It is therefore reasonable to assume that in the absence of a cultural barrier, Indian consumption of alcohol among the non-Muslim population will continue to grow. Diageo is currently attempting to buy India's United Spirits in an effort to boost its exposure in the country and other companies are also targeting India as a growth market. (Also see Comment of the Day on September 26th).

Following an impressive performance for much of 2012, the global brewing sector has spent much of this year unwinding its premium to the wider market and consolidating its earlier gains. The vast majority of shares are now back in the region of their respective 200-day MAs where they have found at least short term support. Diageo, Anheuser Busch and SAB Miller all share this characteristic.

Carlsberg is rallying back towards the psychological DKK600 area which has offered resistance on successive occasions since 2007. A sustained move above that level would reassert medium-term demand dominance.

Tsingtao Breweries' Hong Kong listing completed a multi-year range in April and continues to extend the advance. Its mainland listing broke out in July.

Japan's Asahi Breweries is leading its domestic market higher and hit new recovery highs today.

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