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Have you been to these microbreweries in Bengaluru? If not, you should

In the late 1980s, when Ramada Pub off Church Street, next to the erstwhile popular Premier Bookshop, started vending ‘draught’ or ‘draft’ beer in mugs, it signalled the arrival of not just Bangalore’s but arguably India’s s first-ever pub, thanks to the ingenuity of Hari Khoday, who was known more for his XXX Rum then. A mug of beer cost only Rs. 2.75 paise with peanuts thrown in. It was a place where you could guzzle beer, not from a bottle, but in a mug, dispensed from a tap, connected to barrels of brewed beer got from the distillery. The concept of microbrewery came in much later. Ramada Pub was a tiny place where you jostled for space and guzzled beer with some loud music in the background.

Around the same time, The Pub, renamed later as NASA (guess one got spaced out just drinking beer then) got launched on Church Street and the music and the dim lighting gave fillip to beer drinkers to guzzle more. The Pub drew the upwardly mobile and then came Black Cadillac on Residency road which played rock music and also had regular gigs. I remember Vijay Mallya hosting some liquor-based events here for the media. These were happening places. Then there was Peco’s, Scottish Pub, Underground, Downtown and the like, all in and around Brigade Road, Residency Road, M.G. Road, becoming the city’s ‘beerholes’, if one may coin that term. And then from nowhere pubs started mushrooming across the hotspots of the city, earning Bangalore the moniker ‘Pub Capital of India’.

The city is a cauldron of cosmopolitan culture, with the tech crowd descending from all over the country and elsewhere too. The techies gave Bangalore a new edge and soon, pubs had to re-invent themselves, and voila there was the birth of microbreweries. The pubs of now are very distinct, trying to cater to the hip crowd, setting trends in not just the social drinking habit, but in cuisine, in music, in events and what-have-you. At one time, pub crawl was quite popular, now not so. With an estimated over 500 pubs in the city, these ‘beer-holes’ have to be up there to cater to the discerning and demanding beer connoisseurs and they are, mind it. From pubs to microbreweries, Bangalore or Bengaluru has indeed come a long way from the days of Ramada. Here are some of the new age breweries you can check out to get a taste of the beer world.

Geist Brewing Factory, the pioneer

Among the first to come up with a brewing factory has been Geist. It was in 2006, Geist was incorporated, thanks to Narayan and Paul and later Mohan, software guys who plunge to brew some of the finest beers Bangalore has known. Initially they made 300-400 batches of beer and then when the microbreweries in the city became ‘in’, Geist was right there. When The Biere Club opened in 2013 and later Byg Brewski, Geist became the catalyst. As the pubs grew, Geist set up its own brewery and supplies draft beer to Bootlegger, Hangover and Tipsy Bull, among many other restaurants and pubs.

The name ‘Geist’ comes from the German word ‘zeitgeist’, which is used to define “the general intellectual, moral, and cultural climate of an era”. The sentiment perfectly captures the evolution of Indian beer drinkers, and the resulting rise of the discerning Indian beer enthusiast and you bet, Bengalureans, by birth or otherwise, fall in that category.

To spread their love for beer, they set up their own Geist Brewing Factory – Restaurant and Beer Garden on Old Madras Road, serving their signature crafted beers – Geist Weiss Guy, Geist Kamacitra, Geist Rauch-a-Fella, Geist Marzen, Geist Golden Ale, Geist Witty Wit, Geist Stouter Space stout and Geist Uncle Dunkel. The ambience here is just about perfect to down a beer or two under the shade of a huge banyan tree.

The Geist Rauch-a-Fella is a smoked wheat beer, inspired by the famous smoke beers of Bamberg, while the Geist Stouter Space has delightful notes of chocolate and aromas of vanilla pods. Inspired by Luponic Distortion from Firestone Walker, the Geist Golden Ale series is designed to showcase different hop varieties. The best way to find out how all their beers taste is to go check it out, right?

The Biere Club, welcome to the club

When it opened in 2010, it started a new trend in the pub city – microbrewing and it caught on like raging fire. The Biere Club located, coincidentally on Vittal Mallya road (the man who built United Breweries, later Vijay Mallya gave Kingfisher global branding) got Bengalureans interested in microbrewing, vending beers including wheat, stout, lager and Belgian style ale. They have even experimented with ‘ragi’, locally grown millet, but one must try out the combination of strawberry & vanilla, lemon & chilli and bayleaf. The Moscow Mule created with ale and ginger ale is a drink that finds favour during summers. The Biere Club has another branch in the IT belt, called The Biere Street.

Byg Brewski, Asia’s largest brewpub

This is supposedly Asia’s largest premium brewpub – Byg Brewski Brewing Company or simply Byg Brewski, which is located in Hennur, away from the central business district. It is massive, with a sprawling 65,000 square feet of space which can seat about 3,000 people at a time in five different experience zones. Truly, the experience makes people come back for more and not just for the home-made craft beers. The ambience is an experience in itself with lush greenery and a lake within and a waterfall to boot. The microbrewery serves some amazing beers including Byg Wit (a medium bodied beer, low in bitterness with fruity esters); Byg Hefeweizen, a Bavarian style wheat beer; Byg Triple, a Belgian style strong ale; New Zealand Pilsner; Byg IPA, West Coast style IPA brewed with American hops; Coffee Chocolate Stout, a dark rich decadent stout and many more for one to quench one’s thirst and to experience some of the best brews this side of the world.

Arbor Brewing Company, everything American about it

Decade-old Arbor Brewing Company or simply ABC is supposedly India’s first American craft brewery. This has origins in Arbor Brewing Company, founded by Matt Greff who pioneered American craft beer revolution at Ann Arbor, Michigan. Having tasted American craft beer while studying at the University of Michigan, Gaurak Sikka headed straight to the ‘Pub Capital’ to launch ABC in 2012 and there has been no looking back. In 2018, Sikka took Arbor Brewing Company to Saligao in Goa and both places are rocking for their American craft beer and everything American. The wooden interiors give the place an authentic look, while what can one say about the beers ABC vends – Bangalore Bliss; Phat Abbot Tripel; Smooth Criminal; Rare Earth Lager; Michael Faricy Stout among others. ABC is the place to try highly innovative beer cocktails such as Wheat on Wheat (Ketel one vodka with mango juice, orgeat syrup and Bangalore Bliss); Chocolate Stout Old Fashioned (Michael Faricy’s Irish Stout, Johnnie Walker Red Label stirred together with chocolate and a hint of chilly; and summer refreshment in the form of 3 Spiced Mules (Pineapple and fresh ginger with Johnnie Walker Red Label served tall with Phat Abbot Tripel). ABC offers a full bar and there is a dance floor for one to dance through the night!

Toit, popular hangout

From night to Toit, it’s a beer walk. Toit in Indiranagar is an out and out brew pub, brewing a revolutionary culture, as they word it. With the promise of some bodacious brews, fabulous foods and a supreme brew pub experience, Toit has gone beyond that. In fact, the revolution has moved to Mumbai and Pune too. Toit claims all their beers are made only with natural ingredients; imported malts, the hippest of hops and the most eukaryotic of yeast, never using any enzymes, chemicals, colouring agents, artificial flavouring or preservatives, “because we want every sip to be nothing short of wholesome, heavenly, beer”. Using the unique and exotic flavours of local fruits, rice, wheat, and spices, this is Toit’s contribution to the world’s great craft beers such as Toit Nitro Stout (a very dark, full-bodied, roasty, malty ale); Toit TinTin (Belgian style fruity ale); Toit India Pale Ale (a bitter, highly hopped, English style ale); Toit Hefeweizen (a full bodied refreshing Bavarian); Toit Basmati Blonde (a light, crisp and refreshing ale, they call it a love child of India’s Basmati rice from which it gets its lightness, colour and floral aroma); and the city’s own Benga-Lager-U (a clean lager with complex maltiness and subtle spicy notes). Said to be one of the most popular brew haunts, it gives a high like no other.

Windmills, energising in a gentle way

Celebrating its decade-young journey in microbrewing is Windmills Craft Works in Whitefield. Known simply as Windmills, it is an upscale pub which has a jazz theatre where artistes from around the world have performed. On tap, they vend Hefeweizen, a Golden Ale, A Stout, 1-2 IPAs and New England IPA. For the tech crowd which makes up its clientele, Windmills offers a ‘boutique’ experience and the techies swear by it, not minding its ‘pricey’ menu. On the terrace, it serves North Indian fare, totally high end offering with a spectacular view of the sprawling tech city.

XOOX Brewmill, its Zooks, ok?

Coming to Koramangala which is peppered with some of the best restaurants and watering holes, there is XOOX Brewmill (don’t know how they came to pronounce it Zooks) which vends artisanal beers and cocktails. Spread across three floors, Zooks, is a live craft brewing space, converted from an old factory. The brewery offers eight styles of craft beers and signature cocktails like the XOOX G&T — a gin, martini bianco, Campari, red wine reduction with grape, apple juice, and tonic water, the C&C (Coffee & Conversation) — gin, black coffee, rose water, orange bitters, ginger ale and The Asian Wife, an interesting cocktail made with vodka, lemongrass syrup, lychee juice, lime juice and lemongrass haze.

BierGarten, so al-fresco

When in Koramangala, check out BierGarten, a sprawling 14,000 sq. ft and an airy, al-fresco seating across two floors. To go with this perfect setting, they’ve got about eight beer variants on tap with traditional German-style Hefeweizen, a dark Dunkel and Amber Lager being the most moving ones. They also have an outlet in Whitefield and a menu that boasts European-style cuisine.

Bier Library, for the ‘beerworm’

From BierGarten, we hop to the Bier Library, which has a beautiful open space and seating with the view of a koi pond located bang in the middle. There’s a cozy reading corner if you want your reading to transport you to another world, yes, of course, drinking the well-crafted beer and that includes a Red Ale, a Spicy Wheat Beer, and a Double IPA. They are also quite well known for their signatures that include Wittle Wit, Ale-O-Drama and Further Lager.

Druid Garden, you will like their potions

Moving to North Bangalore, which is just about seeing some fancy restaurants and pubs coming up, right perched on top is Druid Garden which has a built-in microbrewery that is run by a Chez Brew Master. Naturally, the ingredients are all sourced from Czech Republic and Germany and use recipes that have been tried and tested for years. Since they’ve opened, they’ve introduced 6 beers – Czech Pilsner, Bohemian Dunkel, Indian Pale Ale and a Basmati Lager among others.

District 6, zoned out

From one end of the city, we move to District 6, an upscale microbrewery that offers both fine dining and classic brews. With rustic and modern interiors and a blend of refined fresh German style brews, District 6 is a quaint brewery where you won’t have to shout out while in conversation with your drinking partner, the music just being right, not raucous. The microbrewery offers European, Indian and Chinese cuisine, but the beers are German-style. The brewery features open-air ducts and brewing equipment. True to its number 6, the brewery has a beer tank area; a brewery area; outdoor seating; front kitchen; public and private dining spaces.

Bengaluru is a trend setter and people from all over the world converge here for its cosmopolitan outlook and culture, unmindful of traffic. The city is peppered with so many watering holes, that one tends to forget the potholes, the chaotic traffic and work-related stress. Cheers to ‘namma Bengaluru’

Indri Trini bags ‘best Indian Single Malt’ @ World Whiskey Awards

Indri Trini is making waves in its nascent years. The new Indian Single Malt, from the stables of Piccadily Distilleries launched in 2021, has been rated as the ‘Best Indian Single Malt’ across all categories by the World Whiskey Awards 2022.

In the first round of World Whiskey Awards Indri Trini won the category winner tag of Gold. Paul John’s Mithuna and Nirvana was tagged silver and bronze respectively. In the second round, Indri Trini walked away with the title of ‘Best Indian Single Malt’ from India across all categories irrespective of being single cask, cask strength or age.

Awakens five senses

True to its name Indri Trini, the Single Malt awakens all the five senses – smell, taste, touch, sight and sound. Indri or Indirya in Sanskrit refers to these five senses. Indri is a quaint little village situated in the catchment area of River Yamuna, nestled in the foothills of the mighty Himalayas. Indri is the place where Piccadily has one of its distilleries, the other two located in Patiala and Bawal.

Indri Trini is truly the new star that the alcobev world is awakening to. Launched recently, its inaugural expression has bagged some of the most prestigious awards globally. Indri has not only got the Indian Single Malt enthusiasts excited, but also has been generating a lot of attention in the international arena.

Indri backed by a mammoth stock of 40,000 barrels with the distillery churning out 12,000 litres of malt spirit every day is all set for the long haul.

The awards have encouraged the distillery to excel. In its debut year, it has also bagged

● Category Winner, No Age statement at World Whiskey Awards 2022 @www.whiskymag.com

● Winner Asian Whisky of the year at Dom Roskrow’s New Wizards Awards 2022 (that is Best whiskey from India/Taiwan/Japan) https://www.newwizards.co.uk/

● Silver, with a 91 score at The International Wine & Spirit Competition 2022

Dom Roskrow, a spirits writer, editor and consultant specialising in whisky, said, “This was one of the most competitive categories in this year’s Awards, with several gold medal winners competing for the title. This, though, was a revelation and joins a growing band of wonderful Indian whiskies. It is matured in ex sherry, ex bourbon and French oak casks so unsurprisingly there’s a lot going on- berry fruits and red peanuts, lemon, grapefruit and tropical notes, all held in place by freshly shaved wood tannins and soft spice.”

Another feather in the cap is the Silver with 91 points at the International Wine & Spirit Competition. Tasted by the connoisseurs across the globe such as Ivan Dixon, Dawn Davies MW, Andrea Dionori, Jeremy Stephens and Ludo Ducrocq have all praised Indri stating that it is clean, malty nose with oak sweetness and hints of tropical fruits. They have said it is tannic, yet has delicate mouth feel revealing prunes, figs and dates giving it an earthy finish.

Trini, the Three Wood

Trini – The Three Wood, is curated by the distillery’s master craftsmen. It is distilled using the traditional Indian 6 row barley, matured in selected barrels, and blended carefully to bring out the individual contribution of each wood (first fill bourbon, ex-French wine and PX sherry casks) without overshadowing the original whisky profile. Indri Trini is bottled at 46% ABV and is a non-chill filtered whisky.

Nose: Hints of black tea, caramelised pineapple with a whiff of oak from the barrel comes forward, followed by vanilla and honey from the bourbon oak and traces of spiced tannins from the European oak, finally topped up with vinous raisin and sweet sherry notes. Gentle and mellow on the nose.

Taste: Elegant richness, smooth and warm on the sides of the mouth. Gentle spice and wood characters come through, followed by nutty flavours and hints of burnt pineapple, citrus and raisins.

Finish: A subtle and balanced finish where each flavour compliments one another without dominating. A smooth and long after taste with sweet fruity flavours coming up from the warmth of the throat, lingering long after.

The extreme temperature of the Northern plains helps the malt spirit mature faster inside the barrels, naturally. This also means the angels happily take away their share, leaving behind sweet tropical flavours and rich natural colour. The distillery proudly uses no fossil fuels to generate its power needs.

Piccadily Distilleries growing from strength to strength

Thanks to the vast experience, Piccadily Distilleries have been able to touch one milestone after other. Having started in 1953 as a liquor distribution firm as Kedar Nath & Sons, in 1967 it formally registered as Piccadily. The brand has only grown from strength to strength. In 2008, it became the first Indian company to receive permission to produce alcohol from sugar cane juice and in 2009 it imported oak barrels from the United States and began distilling spirits from cane juice. In 2010, the founders’ envisioned the creation of a distillery on par with those of Scotland. It commissioned Raj Industries to build what would become of the largest malt plants in India.

Importantly, the company embraced in 2018 a new philosophy towards producing premium, high-end spirits that adhere to EU and Scottish standards of production while phasing out the molasses-based whiskeys of the past. In 2020, it launched Whistler blended whiskey and conceived Camikara rum – representing ‘liquid gold’. The following year it launched Indri single malt whiskey and this year it released Camikara rum, India’s first sipping rum.

The malt distillery at Indri, located off the famous Grand Trunk Road (which linked Central Asia to the Indian Sub continent for almost 2500 years) was set up in 2012. The distillery is also home to 6 traditional copper pot stills (designed and made in India) and 40,000 barrels. Today, it is India’s largest independent malt manufacturer and seller of malt spirits. The distillery is rapidly expanding its warehousing capacity to hold another 30,000 barrels. A new visitor center is also under construction and will be open for visitors by the end of the year.

The story of Godawan, The Bird, and the artisanal Single Malt Whisky it inspires

Diageo launches Godawan, its artisanal single malty whisky, set to redefine the world of sustainable, modern and conscious Indian luxury.

Godawan, the Great Indian Bustard, a regal, majestic avian… once found all over India, is now nearing extinction, and finds its last refuge in Rajasthan.

Rajasthan, a land of stark contrasts… an arid land of extremes which envelops within it some of the harshest weather conditions. However, culturally, it also preserves and conserves with delicate care and passion everything that exists on its land – whether it is the fauna such as Godawan, its flora such as barley, its innovation in the form of step wells, or its people – known across the world for their thriving, colourful and intricate arts & craft.

The flourishing and world-renowned arts and craft of Rajasthan, such as sandstone and marble art, are a testament to “beauty in scarcity” and crafting exceptional things of beauty from what nature provides.

Godawan, Diageo India’s artisanal Single Malt Whisky, is crafted in, its provenance inspired by, and dedicated wholeheartedly to this Rajasthani ethos – of beauty in scarcity, and sustainability. The heat of over 100°F combined with six-row barley, that requires lesser water, helps create a whisky with an incredible depth of flavour, and a rich and complex character. The aridity means the “Angel’s share” is higher than average in Godawan – leaving behind a whisky with stunning taste profiles, which are finished in special casks selectively curated with Indian botanicals.

Diageo proudly call themselves “The Spirit of the Desert” – the spirit of Rajasthan with its culture, people and ecology which permeates in the character and flavour of their liquid. With Godawan, they doff their hats to the artisans and the innovators who are defining modern Indian luxury that is sustainable, that is ecologically conscious, and truly nurturing of the land it comes from.

Speaking about Godawan, a Single Malt which will change the way world perceives Indian whiskies, Shweta Jain, Chief Business Development Officer, Diageo, says, “When it comes to premiumisation, we, at Diageo India, believe in constant disruptions to up the ante. We believe that our consumers deserve better. We also know that modern affluent Indians are looking for luxury that makes them feel rooted and enriched. Godawan is a product borne out of this belief. It will help our consumers discover an Indianness hitherto unknown – rich and meaningful. Godawan – the spirit of the desert – will redefine the way Indian single malts are perceived globally with its truly world-class story and flavour.

Vikram Damodaran, Chief Innovation Officer, Diageo India, says, “Godawan, Diageo India’s innovation in artisanal single malt whisky, is proof that India is the next emerging destination for quality single malts as well as artisanal craft spirits. Each bottle of Godawan can be traced back to a cluster of barley farms in Rajasthan, ensuring transparency and authenticity of the product and gets its provenance from extreme temperatures which lend it a rare & subtle complexity, and a unique taste. The whisky is not just a testament to the region’s craftsmanship and ingenuity, but also commitment to sustainability and preservation of the land it comes from – and it begins with the Great Indian Bustard.”

Godawan is a labour of love, for our roots, for our heritage, for our land. And it is the embodiment of our commitment – to the conservation of the Great Indian Bustard, and to our communities of artisans and craftspeople. With only a few Great Indian Bustards left in the world, every bottle we make contributes to the conservation of this exquisite bird.

Godawan, The Spirit of the Desert. A story waiting to be told.

The unique whisky-making process involves: Slow-trickle distillation from locally sourced six-row barley; Uniquely matured at temperatures reaching 100°F; Finished in special casks selectively curated with Indian botanicals Godavan will be available in Rajasthan and Delhi to begin with and will then be subsequently available in the rest of India. It will also be available in Dubai from April onwards.

Oh Summer Beer

A summer beer can be just about any style, as long as it’s crisp and refreshing and makes you never want to go back inside again. They range from light and fruity to hoppy and complex, but the best summer beer is the one you come back to again and again as soon as the temperature crawls above 60 degrees.

The global beer market size reached US$ 640.2 billion in 2021. Looking forward, IMARC Group expects the market to reach US$ 750.3 billion by 2027, exhibiting at a CAGR of 2.7% during 2022-2027, according to a new report by IMARC Group.

Beer is a fermented alcoholic beverage that is made by brewing and fermenting starches derived from cereal grains. It is flavoured using hops that not only add a buttery flavour to the beverage, but also act as a natural preservative. Apart from this, other flavourings, such as herbs and fruits, are also added to attribute a specific flavour and fragrance to the drink. It is a rich source of niacin, folate, riboflavin, pyridoxine, potassium and magnesium.

Moderate consumption of beer is widely associated with numerous health benefits and aids in maintaining blood pressure levels, preventing kidney stone formations, and minimising the chances of developing cardiovascular disorders, including angina, stroke and heart attack. Owing to this, it is gaining widespread popularity across the globe.

Global Beer Market Trends:

One of the major factors influencing the global beer market is the rapid spread of the Coronavirus disease (Covid-19) and the consequent social distancing norms and lockdowns imposed in several countries as a control measure. The decrease in the number of social gatherings is projected to lead to a decline in the on-premise consumption and sales of beer in bars, restaurants, pubs and public events. However, this trend will to be offset by the demand for to-go packs as well as home delivery services, mainly through online platforms. Another factor driving the market is the widespread preference for specialty beer among individuals. These beers are brewed to a classic style by incorporating different flavours, such as honey, chocolate, ginger and sweet potatoes. This adds a distinct flavour and aroma, which further adds innovative and eccentric flavours to the drinks. The growing inclination toward craft beer is also accelerating the market growth. Since microbreweries produce portioned amounts of beer, they lay enhanced emphasis on the flavour, quality and brewing techniques as compared to large-scale commercialised breweries.

The potential for beer growth in India is strong as well. AB InBev, for example, began brewing Budweiser in the market back in 2010. In January 2021, Kirin Holdings announced an investment of $30 million in New Delhi-based B9 Beverages, the maker of the Indian craft beer Bira. IWSR anticipates beer consumption in India to return to pre-Covid-19 levels by the end of 2023, continuing on its growth path from there.

Expanding beyond beer

As consumers moved to the at-home occasion, the trend for convenience has helped to shape purchasing behaviours. In markets such as the US, the ready-to-drink (RTD) category, which includes hard seltzers, has been taking share from beer.
RTDs provide a growing opportunity for brewers to diversify their product portfolios. Indeed, Heineken entered the hard seltzer category in September 2020, with the launch of Pure Piraña in Mexico and New Zealand. In the US, Heineken partnered with AriZona to launch the AriZona SunRise Hard Seltzer in October 2020. AB InBev states that Bud Light Seltzer is their leading innovation in the US market, with over 75% of volume being incremental to their portfolio. In fact, 2021 was the first year in which a hard seltzer commercial (Bud Light Seltzer) aired during the Super Bowl.

Malt-based RTDs are currently dominant in the US owing to their taxation base, and brewers they are in prime position to take advantage. Elsewhere, the alcohol base of choice varies by country, driven by consumer preference and local alcohol tax structures.

Changes in purchasing behaviour propel e-commerce

As with the wider beverage alcohol industry, Covid-19 has propelled the value of the alcohol e-commerce channel. Heineken, for example, reported that Beerwulf, its direct-to-consumer platform in Europe, nearly doubled its revenues in 2020, while in the UK, its revenues tripled. Online sales of its home-draught systems grew as well.

Beer has traditionally under-traded online, primarily due to the channel offering lower margins. However, this will change as consumers continue to buy more groceries online and beer is included in the weekly shop. This is especially true in the US, where IWSR expects sales of online beer to grow rapidly as supermarket chains increasingly invest in the channel.
Online beer sales hold the greatest market share in countries including Japan, the UK and the US. From a lower base, online beer sales will also grow rapidly over the next five years in markets such as Israel and Nigeria.

The entrepreneurial spirit of small-batch players

Craft breweries, which tend to be more dependent on the on-premise, have propelled interest in the global beer category and revitalised its fortunes in many markets. IWSR believes that the entrepreneurial spirit of the sector will mean that craft brewery regeneration will be quick. In the US, for example, IWSR has seen the pandemic lead to a “buy local” approach amongst some consumers, which will benefit small-batch players.

Innovation in the no/low space reignites the category

No- and low-alcohol beer is a bright spot for the category, as moderation and wellness trends continue to resonate with consumers. IWSR data shows that, to date, most volume has come from no-alcohol rather than low-alcohol beer across 10 key markets.

Broadly, low-alcohol beer is giving way to no-alcohol offerings particularly in markets such as Australia, France and the UK. Spain, for example, is seeing a shift from low- to no-alcohol beers, as consumers seek healthier choices and view the newer 0.0% brands as more modern. In South Africa, investment from Heineken and the emergence of a craft segment has helped to generate interest in the no-alcohol category.

While no-alcohol beer has existed for decades, in markets like the US, no-alcohol beer has premiumised through the release of no-alcohol versions of non-lager styles, long the domain of no-alcohol beer. More recent no-alcohol styles, such as IPAs, stouts or porters, are starting to make a real impression, driven particularly by new challenger brands, many of which are not linked to traditional brewing. The recent no-alcohol extension of Guinness – despite some teething issues – will help to underline that no-alcohol beers are no longer the sole domain of lagers.

While several key beer players continue to steer the no/low beer category, the market is fragmented with a number of smaller brands vying to establish themselves as market leaders in this space. The segment is likely to become even more of a focus for smaller craft producers who are able to bring a diverse range of products to the market in future.

India and Australia sign an interim trade deal

The India-Australia Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (“IndAus ECTA”) was signed by Shri Piyush Goyal, Union Minister of Commerce and Industry, Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution and Textiles, Government of India and Mr. Dan Tehan, the Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, Government of Australia in a virtual ceremony, in the presence of Prime Minister of India, Shri. Narendra Modi and the Prime Minister of Australia, Mr. Scott Morrison recently.
In his opening remarks during the Joint Press Conference with Mr. Dan Tehan after the signing in ceremony, Shri Goyal said the Australia – India ECTA truly symbolises our Ekta (Unity) & the spirit of cooperation. Terming it a historic day for India, as it is the 1st agreement with a developed country after a decade, Shri Goyal said our relationship rests on the pillars of trust & reliability, aptly reflected in our deepening geostrategic engagement through the Quad & Supply Chain Resilience Initiative.

Stating that India and Australia are natural partners, connected by shared values of democracy, rule of law & transparency apart from our shared love for Cricket, Food & Movies, Shri Goyal said Ind-Aus ECTA is expected to almost double bilateral trade to about $50 billion in five years. He said there is great potential for Indian exports in sectors like textiles & apparel, leather, hospitality, gems & jewelry, engineering goods & pharma, IT, Startups etc. Australia has committed to key areas of India’s interest in Services like Education, IT, Business, Professional Services, and Health & Audio-visual while Australia will also provide Post-study work visas for students, the quota for Chefs & Yoga instructors, and Work & Holiday visas for young professionals.

Tariffs will be eliminated on more than 85% of Australian goods exports to India (valued at more than $12.6 billion a year), rising to almost 91% (valued at $13.4 billion) over 10 years.

Australian households and businesses will also benefit, with 96% of Indian goods imports entering Australia duty-free on entry into force.

India is the world’s largest democracy and the world’s fastest-growing major economy, with GDP projected to grow at 9% in 2021-22 and 2022-23 and 7.1% in 2023-24.

Shri Goyal said the Agreement provides adequate safeguards to prevent circumvention, fuse to protect against sudden surge in import of goods; for the 1st time, mechanism included for compulsory review after 15 years. Underlining that the Ind-Aus ECTA will not only herald a new era of trade & commercial ties, but also take the relationship between our nations to greater heights. Shri Goyal said he will be visiting Australia in the coming days, to take the ECTA to people.

Like true brothers, both nations supported each other during Covid-19. Ind-Aus ECTA covers the entire gamut of the trade & commercial relations, removing trade barriers & opening a plethora of opportunities in both goods & services. Expected that with ECTA, the present bilateral trade for merchandise & services of $27.5 bn (2021), may reach a level of about $45 to $50 billion in the next five years.

It is expected to create new employment opportunities, raise living standards and enhance the overall welfare of the peoples of both the countries. Additional employment generation is expected to be 10 lakhs within the next five years.
Australian wine exporters, however, will have to wait for the full benefits, with tariffs on wine bottles with a minimum import price of US$15 expected to reduce from 150% to 75% when the agreement enters into force. This tariff will then reduce to 25% over 10 years.

Tariffs on wine with a minimum import price of $5 per bottle will be reduced from 150% to 100% on entry into force and subsequently to 50% over 10 years.

In services, Australia has offered 135 sub-sectors to India, while India offered 103 sub-sectors to Australia. Adequate safeguards have been provided to prevent circumvention or diversion of goods from any non-party. Provision for bilateral safeguard measures to protect against a sudden surge in import of goods. For the 1st time, a clause is introduced for a special review mechanism that provides for compulsory review after 15 years in a time-bound manner.

“The IndAus ECTA, encompassing trade in goods and services, is a balanced and equitable trade agreement, which will further cement the already deep, close and strategic relations between the two countries and will significantly enhance the bilateral trade in goods and services, create new employment opportunities, raise living standards and improve the general welfare of the peoples of the two countries,” the commerce ministry said recently in a press release.

In 2020, India was Australia’s seventh-largest trading partner, with two-way trade valued at $24.3 billion, and sixth largest goods and services export market, valued at $16.9 billion. Our Government’s goal is to lift India into our top three export markets by 2035, and to make India the third largest destination in Asia for outward Australian investment.

The Australia-India Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (AI ECTA) signed recently will further strengthen that relationship.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the agreement would create enormous trade diversification opportunities for Australian producers and service providers bound for India, valued at up to $14.8 billion each year.

“This agreement opens a big door into the world’s fastest growing major economy for Australian farmers, manufacturers, producers and so many more,” the Prime Minister said.

“By unlocking the huge market of around 1.4 billion consumers in India, we are strengthening the economy and growing jobs right here at home.

“This is great news for lobster fishers in Tasmania, wine producers in South Australia, macadamia farmers in Queensland, critical minerals miners in Western Australia, lamb farmers from New South Wales, wool producers from Victoria and metallic ore producers from the Northern Territory.

Benefits of AI ECTA include:

Sheep meat tariffs of 30% will be eliminated on entry into force, providing a boost for Australian exports that already command nearly 20% of India’s market.

Wool will have the current 2.5% tariffs eliminated on entry into force, supporting Australia’s second-largest market for wool products.

Tariffs on wine with a minimum import price of US$5 per bottle will be reduced from 150% to 100% on entry into force and subsequently to 50% over 10 years (based on Indian wholesale price index for wine).

Tariffs on wine bottles with minimum import price of US$15 will be reduced from 150% to 75% on entry into force and subsequently to 25% over 10 years (based on Indian wholesale price index for wine).

Tariffs up to 30% on avocados, onions, broad, kidney and adzuki beans, cherries, shelled pistachios, macadamias, cashews in-shell, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, currants will be eliminated over seven years.

Tariffs on almonds, lentils, oranges, mandarins, pears, apricots and strawberries will be reduced, improving opportunities for Australia’s horticulture industry to supply India’s growing food demand.

The resources sector will benefit from the elimination of tariffs on entry into force for coal, alumina, metallic ores, including manganese, copper and nickel; and critical minerals including titanium and zirconium.

LNG tariffs will be bound at 0% at entry into force.

Tariffs on pharmaceutical products and certain medical devices will be eliminated over five and seven years.

Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Dan Tehan said AI ECTA would also further strengthen the people-to-people links between our countries. India was Australia’s third largest market for services exports in 2020.

“This agreement will turbocharge our close, long-standing and highly complementary economic relationship in areas such as critical minerals, professional services, education and tourism,” Mr Tehan said.

“It will create new opportunities for jobs and businesses in both countries, while laying the foundations for a full free trade agreement.”

Both countries will facilitate the recognition of professional qualifications, licensing, and registration procedures between professional services bodies in both countries.

Australian services suppliers in 31 sectors and sub-sectors will be guaranteed to receive the best treatment accorded by India to any future free trade agreement partner, including in: higher education and adult education; business services (tax, medical and dental, architectural and urban planning; research and development; communication, construction and engineering; insurance and banking; hospital; audio-visual; and tourism and travel.

Australia will also provide new access for young Indians to participate in working holidays in Australia. Places in Australia’s Work and Holiday programme will be set at 1,000 per year and Australia will have two years to implement the outcome. This is expected to contribute to both workforce requirements and to boost tourism to support our post-Covid recovery.

In a boost to our STEM and IT workforces, the length of stay for an Indian Student with a bachelor’s degree with first class honours will be extended from two to three years post study in Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics (STEM) and information and communications technology (ICT) sectors.

Australia and India have also agreed to undertake cooperation to promote agricultural trade as part of the agreement and will now work toward concluding an enhanced agricultural Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).

Mr Tehan signed AI ECTA on behalf of Australia during a virtual ceremony with India’s Minister of Commerce & Industry, Consumer Affairs & Food & Public Distribution and Textiles, Piyush Goyal, attended by Prime Ministers Scott Morrison and Narendra Modi.

This announcement builds on the Morrison Government’s $280 million investment to further grow economic relationship and support jobs and businesses in both countries, that includes:

$35.7 million to support cooperation on research, production and commercialisation of clean technologies, critical minerals and energy;

$25.2 million to deepen space cooperation with India and $28.1 million to launch a Centre for Australia-India Relations.

AI ECTA is an interim agreement and both countries continue to work towards a full Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement.

Kerala Government allows pubs, wine parlours in IT parks, tweaks policy

The Kerala Government has approved setting up pubs and wine parlours in IT parks across the state. The State Cabinet which met recently announced a new liquor policy for the financial year 2022-23 which aims to increase the number of retail outlets in the state to bolster its exchequer. In the last five years, God’s Own Country received `46,546.13 crores through the taxation on liquor.

The government revealed to a RTI that it had collected Rs. 766 crores monthly as tax on liquor which meant that tipplers paid as much as Rs. 25.53 crore as tax on liquor. The highest revenue from the tax on liquor was collected during the period of 2018-19 and 2019-20. A total of Rs. 9,615.54 crore was collected in 2018-19 and Rs. 10,332.39 crore in 2019-20. There was dip in sales of liquor due to the pandemic in 2020-21. The Kerala State Beverages Corporation (BEVCO) posted a loss of Rs. 1,608.17 crore in revenue during 2020-21.

Hence, the government which was toying with the idea of opening up retail vends at different places has tweaked the policy. Now, BEVCO and Consumerfed outlets will be started in those areas which are safely away from populated and residential areas. The demand for allowing pubs in the IT sector has been a subject of debate for some time.

The IT sector in the state was demanding to change its policy on the matter. It is learned that the pubs will have facilities of five-star luxury hotel. The Pinarayi Vijayan government tweaked the liquor policy enabling the opening of more retail outlets and the biggest gainer appears to be the IT parks in Kerala, where special earmarked areas will be provided where IT buffs can have a drink.

Incidentally, the liquor policy of the Kerala government is an annual ritual, when the rules are made for the new fiscal and become applicable from April 1 every year.

The biggest gainer appeared to be the three IT parks in the state, where over one lakh professionals are employed at Technopark, Kochi Infopark and the Kozhikode IT park.

The State Excise Minister MV Govindan pointed out that there has been a long-standing demand from IT professionals for a lack of facilities for recreation. “It has been decided to allow sanction for special licenses to these parks where specially marked areas will be there in the park and facilities will be available for consumption of liquor under strict norms,” said a statement from the Minister.

The government also is giving permission to produce liquor with low alcoholic content or wine from the cashew apple, pineapple, jackfruit and nutmeg. Similar to what Delhi did, Kerala intends to allow buying of foreign liquor from the outlets without queues. The decision to increase the production of liquor in the existing units and launch new units has been taken to address the issues in the production of Indian-made foreign liquor and beer.

The government said that it was taking measures to escalate the production of Jawan rum of Travancore Sugars and start manufacturing at the Malabar distillery.

Highlights of the policy:

• No hike in brand registration fees for liquor selling in cans and glass bottles
• The government proposes to ban sale of liquor in plastic bottles from 2023-24
• The closed outlets will be reopened as premium shops to reduce the rush in existing outlets
• Grant of bar licenses will be only to three-star hotels and above
• Kerala Toddy Industry Development Board will be revived and soon licenses will be issued to operate toddy shops from 2022-23
• Track and trace systems will be introduced for production of liquor and inter-district/intra-range transport
• Beverages corporation will launch liquor-related industries in the state
• All services provided by the Excise department will be made available online from April 1
• Computerisation of foreign liquor outlets
• More vehicles and 100 pistols will be delivered to the excise circle offices of eight taluks
• Mobile app titled ‘Peoples Eye’ to lodge complaints about the trade, stocking and consumption of illicit liquor
• Increase the posts of women civil excise officers
• Appoint 100 youth from scheduled tribes as civil excise officers

Rise of Premium vodka spritz RTDs

As the RTD trend continues, a number of premium vodka brands are launching their first canned products focussing on the spritz serve.

Spritz itself has become a malleable term in recent years. Once referring to a combination of soda or sparkling water to wine or vodka, it has more recently been adopted by brands such as Aperol for their popular soda water, prosecco and bitter aperitif serve. In the wake of its success over recent years, other brands, and indeed bars, have adopted the name for their own wine, water, and spirit serves.

In the US, the world’s leading RTD market, RTD innovation is picking up pace as consumers continue to demand lighter but flavourful serves like hard seltzers. Demand is especially growing for spirit-based RTDs in the US, which are expected to grow at a volume CAGR of 33% by 2025. Within this segment, vodka and tequila bases are dominant, together accounting for more than 50% of new spirit-based RTD launches between 2019 and the first half of 2021.

As sales of hard seltzers continue to show double-digit growth in the US, growth is picking up in other markets as well, as the hard seltzer category becomes more globally recognised. To capitalise on this trend, some of the largest vodka brands have chosen the ‘spritz’ name for their sparkling water, spirit, and fruit flavour combinations.

Ketel One was one of the first to offer an RTD spritz with the launch of its canned range of Botanical Vodka Spritzes in September 2020. They were aimed at variety of occasions – from moments of relaxation with family, to spending a safe and socially-distanced day at the pool or park, stated Bob Nolet, Ketel One’s master distiller.

The new raft of launches, led by brands including Cîroc, Grey Goose, and Svedka, have a similar aim; of providing guilt-free, portable, easy summer refreshment, as large-scale outdoor events return, and consumers look to make the most of their first summer of significantly reduced restrictions.

In a notable shift from what has gone before however, all of the new wave of products put flavour first, offering trending tropical, tea, and fruit combinations, still at a lower ABV. With them, brands are hoping to capitalise on the mood of cautious hedonism – alongside the ongoing health and wellness trends – that look to define the summer.

Diageo and brand partner Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs, for example, have launched the brand’s first RTD line, Ciroc Vodka Spritz, as a permanent addition to the brand. The line offers four premium spritz flavours – Watermelon Kiwi, Sunset Citrus, Pineapple Passion and Colada.

Constellation Brands has launched a vodka and tea-based canned line under the Svedka brand. The Tea Spritz line is described as a spirit-based hard seltzer and combines real tea, sparkling water, and natural tropical fruit flavours, and includes three variants; Orange Mango, Pineapple Guava – both of which include turmeric – and Raspberry Kiwi.

Others will likely join in on this new twist on existing RTD trends, as more brands look to claim a part of the market unique from hard seltzers, but that share their many selling points, for themselves.

Two years on from the onset of Covid-19, the global beverage alcohol marketplace continues to exhibit subtle regional variations, characterised by shifts across beer, spirits and RTDs.

It’s a highly detailed picture that defies easy generalisations, as the IWSR’s recent analysis of global beverage alcohol category share 2010-21 shows, with beer demonstrating good resilience in volume terms across many markets – but losing ground steadily to spirits when it comes to value. However, the scene has been disrupted by the remarkably rapid growth of RTDs since 2019, stealing share from all rival categories, but especially from beer.

Volume trends

Beer was severely impacted by the pandemic due to its relatively high on-trade exposure, but has still managed to grow volume share since 2016 in most regions. On a servings-adjusted basis, global beer volumes moved up at a CAGR of +0.2% between 2016 and 2019. However, this was mostly driven by large-scale volume declines for low-priced baijiu in China and vodka in Russia.

The same factors led to a volume decline for spirits at a CAGR of -3.1% between 2016 and 2019 – magnified by public health policies in China and Russia aimed at reducing consumption of low-end spirits. In Russia, for example, this has led many consumers to switch to lower-ABV products such as beer or wine.

Look beyond these trends and it’s apparent that beer is tending to expand its market share in emerging markets, but is declining in mature markets, where spirits and RTDs are generally faring better.

As such, in North America, spirits volumes (on a servings-adjusted basis) rose at a CAGR of +3% between 2016 and 2021, but beer volumes fell at a CAGR of -1.7%. Meanwhile, RTDs surged forward, recording a CAGR of +33.3%.

In Europe, another mature market, the picture is more nuanced: while beer declined at a CAGR of -0.8% between 2016 and 2021, spirits fell too, by -0.6%; however, RTDs rose by +2.9%.

Figures for the emerging region of Africa are skewed by the impact of Covid-19. Pre-pandemic growth for beer, however, was positive, with a CAGR of +3.6%, but was outstripped by the performances of spirits (+4.7%) and RTDs (+7%), 2010 to 2019.

Value trends

The contrast between beer and spirits is more pronounced in value terms, with beer losing share to spirits in every region, thanks largely to premiumisation trends in spirits from 2016.

Beer’s global value share declined from 46% to 39% between 2010 and 2019, and fell further to 37% in 2021. Meanwhile, the value share of spirits has increased from 29% to 38%, and then to 40%, over the same timescale.

Here too there are local exceptions, such as beer gaining share in some emerging APAC markets, and the structural decline in low-end vodka in Russia, leading to migration into beer, wine and RTDs. Beer also staged a recovery in South America in 2021, following lockdowns and enforced on-trade closures in 2020.

The premiumisation trend – “less but better” – for spirits is reflected in a marked increase in price per serve for spirits, particularly from 2016, at a time when beer prices remained largely flat. In terms of average price per serving, spirits moved up at a CAGR of +7.3% between 2016 and 2021. While this value surge is partly explained by volume declines in low-end spirits (baijiu, vodka), it also stems from large-scale investments from brand owners to premiumise their portfolios across mature and emerging markets.

Regional value trends

The latter phenomenon is also apparent from an analysis of category value pools by region: as value per serve has grown rapidly, the value pool commanded by spirits has expanded around the world.

This is especially evident in Asia Pacific, where remarkable growth for spirits has taken share from all other categories except RTDs and, on a regional basis, has led to an erosion of Europe’s value share of the global spirits category. While beer’s value share in APAC declined from 40% to 30% between 2010 and 2019 (and fell further to 28% in 2021), spirits increased its share from 45% to 59% – and reached 62% by the end of 2021.

Category value pool analysis also highlights the astonishingly rapid rise of RTDs, especially in North America, where RTDs more than doubled in value between 2010 and 2019, reaching a 5% value share figure in the region – and then doubled again between 2019 and 2021, reaching 11%.

The rise and rise of RTDs

This remarkable momentum is only partly explained by Covid-19 magnifying pre-existing trends, and there are clear signs that the phenomenon is not merely confined to the US.

On a global basis, RTDs have been growing at around 10% per year (+10% CAGR for the top 20 markets, 2010 to 2021), with a rapid acceleration just before and during the pandemic virtually everywhere. While this shift has been most evident in the US, which recorded a volume CAGR of +34% between 2016 and 2021, consumption is rising fast in a number of other countries, including Canada (+26.1% CAGR, 2016 to 2021) and Japan (+10.6%) – and the majority of the top 20 beverage alcohol markets have witnessed accelerating growth for RTDs between 2016 and 2021.

The SWA has released the 2021 global export figures for Scotch Whisky

Global exports of Scotch Whisky grew to £4.51bn during 2021, according to figures released recently by the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA), as the industry continues to recover from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and US tariffs.

In 2021, the value of Scotch Whisky exports was up 19% by value, to £4.51bn. The number of 70cl bottles exported also grew by 21% to the equivalent of 1.38bn.

Growth in 2021 was driven in particular by consumers in Asia Pacific and Latin America, with value increases of 21% and 71% respectively. Key emerging markets for Scotch Whisky – like India, Brazil, and China – grew strongly. Exports grew by 8% in the United States – the industry largest market by value – despite the first quarter of 2021 impacted by the 25% tariff on Single Malt Scotch Whisky. Exports to the European Union grew by 8% in the first year since the UK left the transition period.

Despite the return to growth in 2021, the value of Scotch Whisky exports has not recovered to pre-pandemic levels, with exports remaining 8% lower than 2019.

Commenting on the figures, Chief Executive of the Scotch Whisky Association Mark Kent said, “The global footprint of the industry in 2021 is a clear sign that the Scotch Whisky industry is on the road to recovery.

“Value and volume are both up as consumers return to bars and restaurants, people return to travel and tourism, and we all return to a degree of normality after a period of enormous uncertainty for consumers and business.

“Scotch Whisky growth in global markets means more jobs and investment across Scotland and the UK supply chain. The industry has continued to invest in its production sites, tourist attractions and workforce to ensure that Scotch Whisky remains at the heart of a dynamic international spirits market and attracts new consumers around the world.

“But this this is no time for complacency. The industry continues to face global challenges, including ongoing trade disruption, growing supply chain costs and inflationary pressures, and undoubtedly there is some road to run before exports return to pre-pandemic levels.

“The UK and Scottish governments should do all they can to support the industry’s continued recovery by making the most of global opportunities, including the ongoing UK-India trade talks, ensuring fairness in the UK duty system, and investing in a more sustainable future as the industry works to reach net-zero by 2040.”

Summary

Export value of Scotch Whisky in 2021 was £4.51bn, up £705m compared with 2020, but down £403m compared to 2019.

Export volume of Scotch Whisky in 2021 was 1.38bn 70cl bottles (equivalent), up 238m 70cl bottles compared with 2020 and up 73m compared to 2019.

On average, 44 bottles of Scotch Whisky are exported every second (up from 36 bottles per second in 2020).

Top 10 Markets

The largest export destinations for Scotch Whisky (defined by value) in 2021 were:

USA:£ 790m8.4% (£729m in 2020)
France:£ 387m2.8% (£376m in 2020)
Taiwan:£226m24.3% (£182m in 2020)
Singapore:£212m-14.3% (£247m in 2020)
China:£198m84.9% (£107m in 2020)
Latvia:£156m-11.8% (£176m in 2020)
Germany:£148m6.4% (£139m in 2020)
India:£146m42.9% (£102m in 2020)
Japan:£133m16.2% (£114m in 2020)
Spain:£118m7.9% (£109m in 2020)

The largest export destinations for Scotch Whisky (defined by volume, 70cl bottles equivalent) in 2021 were:

France:176m bottles-0.1% (176m bottles in 2020)
India:136m bottles44.3% (95m bottles in 2020)
United States:126m bottles12.6% (112 m bottles in 2020)
Brazil:82m bottles80.5% (45 m bottles in 2020)
Japan:56m bottles25.9% (45 m bottles in 2020)
Spain:48m bottles32.0% (36 m bottles in 2020)
Mexico:48m bottles13.0% (42 m bottles in 2020)
Germany:46m bottles7.2% (43 m bottles in 2020)
Poland:45m bottles19.4% (37 m bottles in 2020)
Russia:42m bottles40.7% (30 m bottles in 2020)

Regional data

In 2021, Scotch Whisky exports by global region (defined by value) were (% change vs 2020):

European Union:£1360m8.2% (30% of global exports)
Asia Pacific:£1210m21.4% (27% of global exports)
North America:£1000m11.2% (22% of global exports)
Central and South America:£443m70.7% (10% of global exports)
Middle East and N Africa:£187m55.0% (4% of global exports)
Africa:£157m14.6% (3% of global exports)
Western Europe (ex.EU):£98m6.0% (2% of global exports)
Eastern Europe (ex.EU):£47m33.8% (1% of global exports)

Beam Suntory global sales up 11%, India and China key markets for future growth

Beam Suntory, a world leader in premium spirits, reported full-year 2021 results, with sales up 11% globally. These results also demonstrated strong growth versus the pre-pandemic year of 2019, with sales also up 11% over the past two years.

The company’s 2021 results were led by sustained strength in off-premise sales, and very strong performance in markets where bars and restaurants reopened faster than expected. Markets including Germany, Russia, Spain, emerging Asia and Global Travel Retail all grew at double-digit rates, as did China and India, key markets for Beam Suntory’s future growth ambitions. Sales in the U.S. grew high-single digits, bolstered by robust demand for premium brands. Sales in Japan, up mid-single-digits, benefitted from strong demand for convenient ready-to-drink beverages like -196x but were impacted by extended on-premise restrictions.

Premium brands to the fore

By brand, results underscore the strength of consumer interest in premium brands. Sales grew double digits for brands including Maker’s Mark, Basil Hayden, Knob Creek, Booker’s and Legent bourbons, Laphroaig, Bowmore and Auchentoshan scotches, Hibiki, Hakushu and Toki Japanese whiskies, Sipsmith and Suntory Roku gins, and El Tesoro and Hornitos tequilas, while On the Rocks (acquired in 2020) continued to show exceptional growth. Beam Suntory’s flagship Jim Beam also demonstrated solid growth despite glass supply constraints affecting certain bottle sizes.

“We’re immensely proud of the results our business has been able to deliver in the face of historical challenges related to the pandemic, including on-premise closures and supply chain constraints,” said Albert Baladi, president & CEO of Beam Suntory. “Our results underscore the strength of our premiumisation strategy that relies on exceptional quality, superior storytelling, and executional excellence across consumer touchpoints.”

Strategic moves with accelerated investments

“Our confidence in the future is reinforced by the strategic moves we’re making, with accelerated investment in our business — including capacity, capabilities and our sustainability agenda — the 2021 acquisition of our route to market in Spain, and our upcoming joint innovations with Boston Beer. The people of Beam Suntory look forward to delivering another year of outstanding performance in 2022.”

Beam Suntory launched Proof Positive in 2021, the company’s comprehensive sustainability strategy, representing a $1 billion+ commitment to making a positive impact on nature, consumers and communities.

The key Proof Positive developments during 2021 include renewable energy usage; water conservation; sustainable brands; consumer focus and DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion).

Renewable Energy Usage: All global manufacturing sites began purchasing renewable electricity (or renewable electricity certificates) in 2021, with the goal of 100% renewable electricity usage at across operations by the end of 2022. The Fred Booker Noe Distillery opened in 2021 in Clermont, KY powered by an electric boiler using renewable electricity. In 2022, a pilot project to generate “green” hydrogen will commence at the Ardmore distillery in Scotland. This work supports the company’s commitment to the Race to Zero initiative.

Water Conservation: Closed-Loop Cooling systems were installed in two of the company’s Kentucky distilleries, significantly reducing water usage. Through watershed sustainability collaborations, the company established the first Peatlands Water Sanctuary (Scotland) and the Charco Bendito Project (Mexico).

Sustainable Brands: Sipsmith Gin & Maker’s Mark both achieved B Corp certification in 2021. B Corp Certification is a designation that a business is meeting high standards of verified performance, accountability, and transparency on factors from employee benefits and charitable giving to supply chain practices and input materials.

Consumer: Beam Suntory has increased options for low and no-ABV drinks with products like Sipsmith FreeGlider and the expansion of Lemon Sour Zero. The company is also applying nutrition labelling to key brands across Europe and the U.S. as part of its voluntary commitment to provide nutrition information and alcohol content information on packaging or online for all products by 2030.

Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI): The percentage of female new hires increased 6% to 50% in 2021, with the US multicultural employee population increasing by 4% at both the mid- and senior-manager levels. New and expanded opportunities for internal multicultural talent also increased, accounting for 19% of US promotions and 21% for lateral promotions.

Heineken excited about ‘long-term growth opportunity’ UBL provides

The Chief Executive Officer of Heineken NV, Dolf van den Brink said that, in India, beer volume grew in the thirties, outperforming the market, following a progressive recovery and returning back to pre-pandemic levels in the fourth quarter. Premium volume grew ahead of the total portfolio, led by Kingfisher Ultra, Heineken and Amstel.

Overall, he said the company “delivered a strong set of results in 2021 in a challenging and fast-changing environment. I am proud of how our colleagues, customers, and suppliers continued to adapt, support one another, and deliver these results.

We made a big step towards recovering to pre-pandemic levels, and in parts going beyond. I am pleased with the great momentum of the Heineken brand, the renewal of our brand and product portfolio, the acceleration of our digital transformation and how we are strengthening our footprint with the acquisition of UBL in India and our announced intentions for Southern Africa. We raised the bar on sustainability and responsibility and are making big strides in right-sizing our cost base.”

He said that operating profit grew by 476.2% mainly due to the exceptional gain this year from the remeasurement to fair value of the previously held equity interest in UBL in India, and the exceptional losses from last year’s impairments and restructuring provisions.

Looking ahead

“Although the speed of recovery remains uncertain and we face significant inflationary challenges, we are encouraged by the strong performance of our business and how EverGreen is taking shape. This gives me confidence we are on course to deliver superior and balanced growth to drive sustainable long-term value creation,” he said.

Net revenues up by 12%

Net revenue (beia) for the full year 2021 increased by 12.2% organically, with total consolidated volume growing by 3.6% and net revenue (beia) per hectolitre up 8.3%. The underlying price-mix on a constant geographic basis was up 7.1%, driven by assertive pricing and premiumisation, with the regions Americas and Africa, Middle East and Eastern Europe (AMEE) growing double-digits. Currency translation negatively impacted net revenue (beia) by €515 million or 2.6%, mainly driven by the Brazilian Real and the Nigerian Naira. The consolidation of United Breweries Limited (UBL) in India positively impacted net revenue (beia) by €280 million or 1.4%.

In the second half of the year, net revenue (beia) grew 10.6% organically. We took further pricing actions and accelerated net revenue (beia) per hectolitre growth to 11.0%. Underlying price-mix in the second half was up 8.8% primarily driven by Nigeria, Brazil, Mexico and Europe, the latter benefiting from an improved channel mix. Total consolidated volume declined slightly by 0.3%, mainly impacted by the restrictions in the Asia Pacific region.

Beer volumes grow nearly 5%

Beer volume grew 4.6% organically for the full year. In the fourth quarter, beer volume grew 6.2%, benefitting from fewer restrictions in Europe relative to last year, continued momentum in the Americas and AMEE, and a sequential recovery in Asia Pacific (APAC) relative to the third quarter.

Operating profit (beia) grew 43.8% organically with a strong recovery in Europe, AMEE and the Americas, partially offset by the impact of the pandemic in APAC. Currency translation negatively impacted operating profit (beia) by €98 million, or 4.0%, mainly driven by the Brazilian Real, the Surinamese Dollar, the Vietnamese Dong and the Ethiopian Birr.

Outlook

“We launched our EverGreen strategy in February 2021 to future-proof our business and deliver superior, balanced growth for sustainable, long-term value creation. It requires us to constantly navigate the long-term transformation with the short-term financial delivery under fast-changing external circumstances. We are encouraged by the progress made, witnessed by the strong performance of our business in 2021 and how EverGreen is taking shape.

In 2022, we will continue to navigate an uncertain environment and expect Covid-19 to still have an impact on revenues. Our plans assume markets in APAC to progressively bounce back during the year, yet full recovery of the on-trade in Europe may take longer.

We also expect to be significantly impacted by inflation and supply chain resilience pressures. More specifically, we expect our input cost per hectolitre (beia) to increase in the mid-teens given our hedged positions and the sharp increase in the prices of commodities, energy, and freight. We will offset these input cost increases through pricing in absolute terms, which may lead to softer beer consumption.

Reflecting our confidence in the long-term, we intend to reverse the cost mitigation actions undertaken in 2021 and to further step up our investments in brand support and our digital and sustainability initiatives. This investment will be partially offset by further delivery of gross savings from our productivity programme. These changes are expected to have a greater impact in the first half of the year.

Overall, we expect a stable to modest sequential improvement in operating profit margin (beia) in 2022. Whilst continuing to target 17% operating margin (beia) in 2023 and operating leverage beyond, there is increased uncertainty given current and evolving economic and input cost circumstances. Therefore, we will update the 2023 guidance later in the year.”

It may be mentioned here that UBL was started nearly 73 years by the late Vittal Mallya, father of Vijay Mallya. Heineken took control of United Breweries, the erstwhile flagship brand of the UB Group. This follows Heineken’s acquisition of additional ordinary shares in UBL on June 23, 2021, taking its shareholding in UBL from 46.5 % to 61.5%.

UBL has a proud history

Dolf van den Brink had then said, “UBL has a proud history dating back more than a century as an influential shaper of the beer industry in India. It built its position as the undisputed market leader in India with a strong network of breweries across the country and a fantastic portfolio led by its iconic Kingfisher brand family, complemented more recently by a strong Heineken international brand portfolio. We are honoured to build on this legacy and look forward to working with our colleagues at UBL to continue to win in the market, delight consumers and customers and unlock future growth.”

India offers an exciting long-term growth opportunity as per capita beer consumption is low at 2 litres per annum. Its growing population of nearly 1.4 billion people includes a strong emerging middle class, enabling further premiumisation, Heineken said.