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Amazing Premium Vodka Review

The Vodka market in India hasn’t been experiencing high level of growth for few years now. But while the regular Vodka category has witnessed a flat line, the flavours category has been witnessing good growth in the industry and nearly accounts for 60% of the overall vodka sales. Precisely the reason why you see manufacturers offering flavours of their vodka. So it is only natural that when India Glycols must’ve chosen to launch their vodka, it would be in two flavours, Green Apple and Orange.

If you remember then recently, we reviewed the Single Reserva Whisky which was also from India Glycols. The price of this product is Rs. 750 in UP is also available in Uttarakhand, Chandigarh and Rajasthan. There are also plans to take it National this year. With its price this Vodka is in the same category as some of the highest selling brands like Magic Moments and similar to Single Reserva, this vodka is also made at the company’s Kashipur and Gorakhpur plants.

Now Amazing Premium Vodka has been developed with the help of Raju Vaziraney who has been in the industry for many years and has helped in developing a lot of brands. This is a Grain-based Vodka which is infused with imported enhancers that have been brought from Germany. As you might knoe that enhancers are added flavours that provide the spirit with a premium feel. This is common in the industry and the flavoured vodka market. But since these are imported from Germany, it also is the distinguishing factor for this vodka as compared to the other vodkas made in India. The vodka is also 5-times filtered to make it smooth.

Packaging

Vodka packaging is always more bolder since it needs to be attractive to appeal to the youth and women. Amazing Vodka comes packed in a frosted bottle with four colour printing and the bottle features an illustration of Mermaid suggestive of fantasy. What’s also clear is the flavour with the green colour for the label and the caps. We like the printing on the bottle, it feels premium and nice and also that the word amazing is embossed on the bottle.

Nosing

In terms of nosing you get the subtle green apple flavour, which isn’t very overbearing. With a 37.5% ABV the vodka isn’t exactly very strong. But the filtration process ensures that you can nose that the spirit is refined and smooth. The aroma is also very distinctive and crispy.

Tasting

With the first sip itself you can get the flavour. The spirit is smooth and it feels premium, especially since they’ve used imported enhancers. The finish is medium-longish and there isn’t any afterburn as it trickles down. There is a slight hint of peppery note in the taste to give some spice to it. But again, it isn’t overbearing.
We also added a mixer to it to allow the vodka to open up a little and see what it does. Once added it makes the spirit even more milder, so may be as a tip: don’t add too much of the mixer when you choose to drink it.

Conclusion

So what is it that we think about the Amazing Premium Vodka. For a price of Rs. 750 for a bottle it is clear that it is targeted to users that are looking for good value for money. And of course you do have popular brands in that category already. When mixed with something that you like as you usually consume vodkas then you might feel really at home when it comes to this vodka. But our suggestion would be to not mix it with something very sweet since green apple flavour already has a hint of sweetness. But all in all, it has everything that you want from a vodka at this price point and it surely is worth a try.

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.

Bira 91 ‘Imagined in India’ limited-release beers pleasing the desi palate with innovative flavours

The late English author Gilbert Chesterton once wrote: “Let a man walk 10 miles steadily on a hot summer’s day along a dusty English road, and he will soon discover why beer was invented.” He’s right, of course — there’s something about the combination of the warmest season and an ice cold brew that just works. Summer in Delhi is unbearable and we do not have an opposition for this. And, how most of us beat the heat is by gulping down frosty and flavourful beers. Delhiites can now rejoice as India’s popular beer brand Bira91 brings you a range of four new limited-release beers – Bollywood IPA, Kokum Sour, Brown Ale, and Mango Lassi – as part of their ‘Imagined in India’ initiative. Team Ambrosia was part of the preview tasting, hosted on April 07 2022 at the beautiful QLA, in Mehrauli, Delhi. The tasting was followed by dinner, curated by Chef Vicky Ratnani, and a live music set by DJ MoCity and DJ Nida. It was what we call a perfect dreamy evening filled with all the finer things in life.

A melange of flavours

The ‘Imagined in India’ beers are made with indigenous products and are inspired by the raw creativity of today’s India led by emerging artists, entrepreneurs, and startups combined with the cradle of flavours that find a home here.

The Bollywood IPA variant has a tropical twist, inspired by west coast India Pale Ales that were born in California, while Kokum Sour has traditional ingredients from the Konkan coast. We loved the Brown Ale – a blend of English Nut Brown Ale and the Antwerpian Amber with notes of coconut and vanilla. Fans of lassi would appreciate the taste of their Mango Lassi version that merges its Wheat Ale and a milkshake beer into one.

Ankur Jain, founder and CEO of the company, said, “For this generation of consumers, beer means flavour, and we deliver on that promise. ‘Imagined in India’ is an attempt to bring together the many flavours of India and its creative energy fuelled by emerging artists, entrepreneurs, and startups. Each beer is brewed with unusual ingredients – local and seasonal – which makes them unique.”

He further added, “Each of these flavours originated at the Bira 91 Limited-release Taproom at Koramangala, Bengaluru, where they received tremendous consumer love and affinity. The flavours were voted as the top-ranked choices by beer lovers, which inspired us to bring them to consumers across the country.”

Earlier, back in 2021, Bira 91, in collaboration with non-alcoholic drinks brand Svami, had rolled out Cucumber flavoured Kölsch. The Bira 91 x Svami Cucumber Kölsch is brewed with pure German Pilsner malt, a fresh cucumber flavour and the delicate caress of the finest German noble hops, with an IBU of 18 and an ABV of 6%. It is a crafted blend of bitter-sweet notes and cool cucumbers creating a crisp, balanced, and revitalising beer.

Staying true to the brand’s playful image, Bira 91 encourages consumers to be more experimental and creative, while exploring new flavours in everything, including the beers that they drink. The new ‘Imagined in India’ range is yet another exciting testament to delivering on that promise.

Collaborations for community growth

To bring alive the flavours, Bira 91 has collaborated with Kulture Co, a curated platform spearheading the new wave of Indian Graphic Art across borders. The brand on-boarded contemporary Indian artists from the Kulture Lab – artists who are breaking the mould and taking modern India to new frontiers – to conceptualise and design the packaging of the four new flavours.

Channelising their art and creativity on a new canvas, artists Ranganath Krishnamani, Osheen Siva, M. Sajid and Prince Lunawara showcase a vibrant palette of local stories around shared identities painted onto these beer cans, paying homage, and narrating the story of our home country.

Commenting on the idea behind designing the packaging of Bollywood IPA, artist Ranganath Krishnamani said, “Conceptualising the packaging of a flavour so bold and dynamic, that it takes you to the heart of Mumbai, where all things Bollywood originated, was truly exhilarating. Incorporating the charming art deco cinemas in Colaba, the iconic ‘kaali-peeli’ cabs, and the vintage colour scheme was the perfect way to capture Bollywood on a can.”

Designer of the Kokum Sour packaging, Osheen Siva, too expressed his thoughts behind the masterpiece and said, “Kokum is a tangy flavour, as Indians have developed a taste for since childhood. To depict a taste so loved yet so new to the beer industry was exciting. I conceptualised it to be something offbeat and loud. For me, the can had to give consumers an idea of what they were picking up from the rack when indulging in a Bira 91 Kokum Sour Beer.”

“Imagined in India to me is being authentic, raw and connected to our roots. Capturing the taste of Brown Ale that recognises uplifts and celebrates diverse communities of India and having the essence reflect in the artwork on the packaging was a great experience,” M. Sajid, who designed the Brown Ale packaging, enthused.

Prince Lunawara, who creatively illustrated the Mango Lassi can said, “India loves mangoes and merging the flavour with beer is as creative as it can get. Through the can, my idea was to celebrate this creativity and the beauty of India’s flavours.”

The limited release beers will retail in metros like Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, and Pune.

According to Expert Market Research, the India beer market stood at a value of nearly 371 billion in 2020. The industry is expected to reach approximately 662 billion by 2026, rising at an estimated CAGR of 9.2% during 2022-27.

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.

Diageo India reports continued growth momentum, thanks to premiumisation

In the unaudited third quarter, Diageo India has registered an increase in net sales of 15.9%, reflecting a strong quarter driven by resilient consumer demand in the off-trade channel, continued premiumisation and recovery of the on-trade channel. Underlying net sales increased 14.3%, excluding the one-off sale of bulk scotch.

Diageo India said that the Prestige & Above segment net sales grew 20.0%, with strong double-digit growth in our scotch portfolio. However, Popular segment net sales declined 1.7%, while priority states were flat. The Gross margin was 44.1%, down 49bps on a reported basis, driven by input cost inflation, partially offset by favourable product mix and productivity savings. Adjusting the one-off sale of bulk scotch, underlying gross margin was 44.3%, down 31bps.

Ms Hina Nagarajan, CEO, commenting on the quarter and nine months ended 31 Dec. 2021 said, “We have delivered a strong quarter, continuing the growth momentum amidst rising inflation. The broad-based growth in the Prestige & Above segment demonstrates the strength of our portfolio, and the continued agility and resilience of the team. We launched the second limited edition of Epitome Reserve Craft Whiskey, a Peated Indian Single Malt. We continued to expand distribution of the renovated Black Dog Scotch, Signature Whiskey and our innovation offering of Royal Challenge American Pride Whiskey.

We also launched ‘In.thebar.com’ this quarter, our digital platform to drive focussed consumer engagement and celebrations.

Healthy operating cash flow has enabled us to reach debt free status as on Dec.31st 2021. CRISIL upgraded its rating on United Spirits Limited’s long-term bank facilities to ‘AAA / Stable’ while reaffirming its ‘A1+’ rating on the short-term bank facilities.

External operating environment in the near-term will remain challenging, including potential impact from Covid-19 and rising cost inflation. We continue to work with agility and remain focussed on strengthening our portfolio while driving productivity across the value chain. We remain confident in the market potential and continue to stay focussed on our strategic priorities to drive long-term value creation for all our stakeholders.”

The Reported EBITDA was Rs. 491 Crores, up 27.9% and the reported EBITDA margin was 17.0%, up 159 bps, primarily driven by operating leverage on fixed costs. It said that Interest includes a one-off non-debt related charge. Underlying interest was Rs. 16 Crores, down 56.8% driven by reduced debt and lower interest rates.

The profit after tax was Rs. 291 Crores, up 26.7% and PAT margin was 10.1%.

Nine month’s performance highlights:

The reported net sales increased 22.6%, lapping soft prior year comparators. Growth was underpinned by strong consumer demand in the off-trade, premiumisation trend and continued momentum in at-home consumption occasions. Underlying net sales increased 21.9%, excluding the one-off sale of bulk scotch.

The Prestige & Above segment net sales increased 26.9%, lapping soft comparators and favourable product mix. The popular segment net sales increased 11.0%, while the priority states increased 10%. The Gross margin was 44.3%, up 113bps, primarily driven by favourable product mix, productivity savings from everyday cost efficiencies and lapping a one-off inventory provision. It said marketing investment was up 24.9% as the company lapped a reduction in promotional activity during the same period last year due to Covid-19. Marketing reinvestment rate was 8.0% of reported net sales.

The reported EBITDA was Rs. 1,084 Crores, up 88.2% and the reported EBITDA margin was 15.6%, up 544 bps primarily due to recovery in gross margin, operating leverage and lapping one-off costs in the prior year. Excluding the one-off items, underlying EBITDA was up 430 bps.

The reported interest cost was Rs. 52 Crores, down 62.3% driven by debt, interest rate reduction and a net reversal benefit of non-debt related interest charge. Exceptional items include a one-off provision towards an additional demand in relation to a historical customer dispute and tax includes a one-off reversal of 19.2 Crores.

The profit after tax was Rs. 634 Crores, up 343.2% and PAT margin was 9.1%.

United Spirits Ltd reports 27% PAT for third quarter

United Spirits Ltd (USL) has reported a 27 % year-on-year surge in profit after tax (PAT) for the third quarter of financial year 2021-22, which came in at Rs. 291 Crore, up from a Rs. 230 crore during the same period last year.

The PAT margin in Q3 FY22 was 10.1%, the company said. In a press release attached with the quarterly results, USL said it reached “debt-free status” by December 31, 2021, due to its “healthy operating cash flow”. The reported net sales in the three-month period ending December 2021 increased to Rs. 2,885 Crore, marking a 15.9% YoY jump.

The surge was driven by resilient consumer demand in the off trade channel, continued premiumisation and recovery of the on-trade channel, USL said. Underlying net sales increased by 14.3%, excluding the one-off sale of bulk scotch, it added.

“Prestige & Above segment net sales grew 20%, with strong double-digit growth in our scotch portfolio,” the company said. Popular segment net sales, however, declined by 1.7%.

The earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBIDTA) came in at Rs. 491 Crore, which was 27.9% higher as compared to the year-ago period. The EBITDA margin came in at 17%, up 159 bps, primarily driven by operating leverage on fixed costs.

“We upweighted our investment in marketing to support strategic priorities and on-going demand growth initiatives,” USL said.

Gross profit came in at Rs. 1,273 Crore, as compared to Rs. 1,082 Crore in the second quarter. Gross profit margin was 44.1%, down 49 bps on a reported basis, driven by input cost inflation, and “partially offset by favourable product mix and productivity savings”, USL said.

Diageo India chief executive officer Hina Nagarajan, while commenting on USL’s Q3 performance, said “external operating environment in the near-term will remain challenging, including potential impact from Covid-19 and rising cost inflation”.

“We continue to work with agility and remain focussed on strengthening our portfolio while driving productivity across the value chain. We remain confident in the market potential and continue to stay focussed on our strategic priorities to drive long-term value creation for all our stakeholders,” the CEO added.

The operations remained broadly normal for the quarter with sentiment gradually inching up seen in improved mobility and strong festive period helped demand. While input cost pressures continue, the global supply chains remain disrupted with port congestion and container availability issues. However, efforts, it said, are on to ramp up of innovation and renovation agenda, premiumisation trends continue, launched digital platform In.thebar.com during the quarter. It said it aligned itself with the new policies in Delhi and West Bengal, and tax rationalisation on BIO spirits in Maharashtra and West Bengal.

On the outlook, it said it was aiming to retain current demand momentum despite challenging near-term environment, expanding on new productivity initiatives, renovated portfolio well placed to benefit from ongoing premiumisation, and final stages of strategic review of popular brands.

Australian wines focus on India paying rich dividends

Australia’s industry is different. It is much more mature, and our climate allows for a more diverse variety of wines to be produced. So it isn’t a “like for like” comparison. In fact, we see no real competition between the domestically produced and imported wines. Both are targetted to different parts of the society. Domestic wines are often perceived as “value for money”.

Imported wines often carry a perception of quality among Indian customers who are willing to pay a premium. According to some statistic, imported wines account for about 35% of the country’s total wine consumption in terms of value but only about 12% in terms of volume.

Australia is looking at the upper end of the spectrum in wines, we see an opportunity for Australian labels to offer an experience to consumers.

The diversity and quality we can offer, gives us the ability to provide consumers with something that few new world countries can.

What experiences of Asian markets would you like to bring to the marketplace?

The Indian wine market is in a nascent stage, especially for imported wine. We are delighted to see wine culture slowly evolving and consumer adoption growing.

As the industry continues to grow, we are hoping to see more advanced matching of wines and foods. Cobranding of wine experiences with other activities, like premium tourism. Curated experiences that take the consumer on a journey. Tasting rooms, which we see coming up in Maharashtra soon, are something we are working on.

Our main aim is to see wine transformed from consumption to experience in the mind of the consumers.

Exports of Australian wines in glass bottles have grown 2% in value and unpackaged wines by 13%, what are your comments? Do you see an opportunity for bulk wine exports to India?

There is an opportunity for bulk wine. But current duty structures don’t really make it viable. There is no significant cost saving to import bulk as custom duty remains same for bottled and bulk wine. It’s not something we are looking into right now.

We do see opportunities for private labels in India and have had success with Australian brands developing private labels for Indian organisations.

What kind of pricing strategy should Australian wines adopt as the global trends are for low-end wines and high-end wines?

Brands should consider a multi-pronged strategy. Offering an entry level wine to generate awareness of their label in the market. Support this with a more premium offering, that elevates the perception of quality.

What are your comments on the growth of wines in value (less than $2.50 per litre) by 8% and that of high-end wines ($50 and more) increase by 34% in value?

This is a very encouraging trend. It shows a maturing of consumers’ pallet and an appetite for a premium experience.

As has been the case all around the world, as the industry matures, consumers’ pallets become more sophisticated and the premium segment emerges. We also see this trend in the fact that importers are not only seeking entry level wines, but also mid and premium level wines

Australia has unique position in Indian market. Australia has significant market share not only in wines value less than $2.50 per litre, but also high-end wines, too.

Australian wines have an approximately 23% market share, and a little over US$ 6 million in value. What target would you like to set for yourself in terms of market share and value?

We are very proud of our position in the market. It’s something we want to hold on to and grow. We haven’t set targets in terms of overall dollar value. We want to focus on creating a brand for Australian wine, as we feel this will give the best outcome.

Importantly, younger generations, particularly the age group of 20-35 years, is the emerging consumer segment for wine. This is due primarily to an exposure to Western culture.

Austrade India have a significant presence on the ground. Austrade has offices in six Indian cities (Mumbai, New Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai, Kolkata & Hyderabad). We are working closely with Indian importers and providing personalised one-on-one service to understand importers’ requirements to expand their portfolios and connect with Australian wineries. Austrade is playing an important role to maintain and grow Australian market share in imported wines in India.

With a very low per capita consumption of wine (a tablespoon) and total consumption of 30 million litres how would you rate prospects of Australian wine in India?

With the market being in a developing state, there is huge potential for Australia.

Historically, India has been a market for spirits and beer and wine consumption has been limited by availability of domestic wine as well as the high cost of imported wines.

In a country with a billion-plus population, it is estimated that wine in India has penetrated only a small segment of the population so far, resulting in low capita consumption of wine. Wines are increasingly becoming popular among younger generations and are now being served at functions, events, Indian marriages, and gifting.

Australia’s proximity to India, in comparison to other wine producers, gives Australian exporters a slight advantage. Not only are freight cost moderately cheaper, but diplomatic relations are strong due to our shared democratic values and large Indian diaspora in Australia.

The position of Australian wine and its wineries is critical. We want consumers to think of Australia in terms of a premium brand for wine – A leader in the new world.

With India being such a young country (by demographics and at heart) we’ve taken a long-term vision for the market.

With India importing about 500,000 cases of wines per annum what is the scope for Australian wines in India?

With the market being in such a developmental state, there is huge potential for Australia. The amount of wine imported will grow over the coming years and if Australia can establish its brand in the market it will be a big part of that growth.

Many well-known Australian wines are not present in India – Jacob’s Creek, Hardy’s, Yellowtail are three accessible brands. For consumers looking to explore Aussie labels and varieties further there is Yalumba, Torbreck, Two Hands, Penfolds, Lindeman’s, Wolf Blass and Debortoli available across a range of state, just to name a few.

Imported rosé is witnessing increased interest due to its versatility and food pairing. Rosé is often discussed as an excellent wine to pair with vegetarian food. It suits the Indian palate as it is light and fresh like white wine, but with the body and fruitiness of a red wine. Blush-coloured medium sweet Moscato wines that are low in alcohol content are emerging as a trend amongst health-conscious consumers. This is something Australia can bring more of to the market.

“Wine-in-can” is a new segment that is targetted primarily at millennials for on-the-go consumption. We’ve already seen success for Australia in this area with Barokes.

All these trends support the notion that Australia will continue to be a leading choice for consumers in India.

With 19 million young people entering the drinking market each year and with young people a prime target audience for wines, how do you plan to address this target and the general wine drinking audience?

The perception of wine needs to be looked at. For a long time, wine has held a distinct position in the Indian consumers’ mind. It has been seen as a sophisticated and stylish drink as compared to other alcoholic beverages, like whiskey, scotch and rum that are considered men’s drink or gin, which might be considered a preference for females.

But the thing with wine is there are so many different varietals and tastes, that there is a type of wine for everyone.

If we can bring exciting options, like rosé or different sparkling varieties I think it can really excite new consumers and appeal to broader tastes.

Right now, wine consumption in India is largely limited to urban areas and metropolitans. Austrade advises its Aussie labels to focus not only on metros, but also to look at tier-2 and tourist locations.

Younger wine drinkers in India are an experimental group who are searching for new experiences; an appetite we hope to satisfy with Australian wine.

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.

Ambrosia Awards 2021 is like a booster shot to the alcobev industry

The Ambrosia Awards 2021, held on December 17 at Hotel Andaz, New Delhi, was an extraordinary event, held during extraordinary times. The alcobev industry was starved of any networking event for nearly two years with the pandemic in full play. The Ambrosia Awards night came as refreshing breather to an industry which needed all the booster shots it could get. The Ambrosia Awards and the day-long Indspirit 2021 conference provided that perfect platform for the sector to not only network, but also to strategise going forward.

It was a packed awards night. There was one common refrain among the award winners as they were delighted to win as it endorsed and encouraged their efforts in keeping the focus of the industry going through resilience, strategising differently, innovation and above all the ‘never say die’ spirit.

That spirit was summed by the Ambrosia Business Leader of the Year 2021, Mr. Abhishek Khaitan, the Managing Director of Radico Khaitan Limited. While thanking Ambrosia for honouring him with the award, he thanked his team for growing the company. “With the team of ours we have been able to create over 15 premium brands in the country including a single malt whisky which is retailing at `1 lakh per bottle. This is a proud moment not only for me, but the entire team at Radico.”

Team spirit echoes at Awards Night

This ‘team spirit’ sentiment echoed through the huge gathering which had descended upon the venue to cheer the alcobev sector. Each of the awardees had a story to tell, even if it was just a ‘thank you’. It was not easy for the esteemed panel of judges who had to sift through so many deserving players. The panel of judges included: Mr. Bernard Schaefer, whisky expert and consultant; Mr. Ajoy Shaw, wine maker and consultant; Mr. Binod K. Maitin, independent consultant; Mr. Graeme Bowie, Scotch whisky expert; and Ms. Sheetal Kadam, wine promoter and consultant; and the judges for the packaging segment were Dr. Santosh Kshirsagar, Dean of J.J. School of Arts; Mr. Pranav Bhide, Sr. Creative Director, Leo Burnett; Mr. Shekar Ambedkar, Head of International Packaging Centre; and Prof. K. Munshi, former Head of Design Department, IIT.

Alcobev industry stands solidly behind the community

It hasn’t been easy for SAP Media Worldwide and its leader, Mr. Trilok Desai, to ensure the success of this event after a couple of postponements which the industry well understood. The Awards Night began with 30 seconds silence in memory of those from the industry who had lost their lives to Covid-19. In his address at the Awards Night, Mr. Trilok Desai talked about how the alcobev industry – be it Diageo, Pernod Ricard, Beam Suntory, Radico Khaitan, Jagatjit and several others – stood solidly behind to help the alcobev community overcome the Covid-19 crisis in whatever way possible. “Now, the worst period in the history of the alcobev industry is over. And we pray that Omicron does not turn out to be that dangerous.”

Mr. Desai was optimistic. There is a positive outlook on all fronts for the alcobev industry including the announcement of industry-friendly policies by the governments of Maharashtra and West Bengal. He singled out the efforts of the Delhi government which has revamped the excise policy and taken government out of the liquor business, a welcome move.

India, a global hub for alcoholic beverages

“India is fast becoming a global hub for alcoholic beverages as many of the world’s biggest brands continue to move to the nation in a bid to sell their products; compete with local distillers and producers. The reason is not far-fetched, India remains the world’s fastest growing major economy and, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the country will continue to lead in economic growth at 8.5% in 2022 following an impressive growth of 9.5% in 2021.

All these have been possible with the Indian economy growing at a decent rate of 8.5% with the third largest PPP- purchasing power parity- and over millions of young consumers who have high purchasing power. India’s ever increasing number of high networth individuals (HNIs) is also contributing to the growth of high-end whiskies; scotches and single malts, besides wine. The society is lot more liberal now and has started accepting social drinking culture for the past few years.”

Centre, State now more amenable to industry needs

Mr. Desai mentioned how the alcobev industry has been contributing to almost all the State exchequers and how a few states have had to reverse prohibition within months of enforcing it, given the challenges of the huge revenue losses. The alcobev sector also creates millions of jobs directly and indirectly and contributes in no small measure to the growth of the industry. “The Central and the State governments have started understanding these aspects and several states are responding positively in the interest of the alcobev industry, thanks to the continuous efforts of CIABC; ISWAI; AIBA and AIDA. Let’s give them a big round of applaud for their efforts.”

Changing dynamics

The Indian alcobev industry has become more innovative with more single malts rolling out of the stables, not only concentrating in the Indian market, but have performing well in exports. “More crafted spirits; flavoured spirits; increasing number of gins and several start-ups during the past two years have attracted investors and kept the industry buoyant.”

India’s increased requirement of ethanol blending in petrol of 20% by 2025 to control pollution and reduce the bill on import of oil has fuelled the investment in the sugar and distillery industry for the ethanol production. This will lead to increased employment in the sugar producing states like UP and Maharashtra.

Ambrosia Awards instituted 28 years ago

Talking about Ambrosia Awards per se, he recalled how they were instituted 28 years ago and how over the years it has earned recognition and credibility as it has maintained a strict criteria and parameters for their evaluation. We have been continuously investing in this property over the years.

“The evaluation process is very stringent and the international jury has expressed their satisfaction at the judging process as we maintain strict international standards. The jury is highly reputed and is recognised in their respective fields. They have also been surprised at the quality of products over the last five years. They feel that IMFL products quality is constantly improving and they offer the best value on an average price of 6/7 dollars a bottle.”

While thanking the staff for the success of the event, Mr. Desai mentioned how Ambrosia has come to be one of Asia’s highest circulated wine and spirits magazine and is in its 28th year of publication. It was the first English language magazine launched in Asia in the alcobev sector and we continue to maintain the leadership position. The publication is owned by SAP Media Worldwide Ltd which has several other titles like Asian Photography and International Aerospace, Show Dailies and so on besides many other verticals like conferences, awards etc. In certain segment of the industry like Aerospace & Defense we are the 4th highest circulated magazine in the world and we publish dailies under the title SHOW DAILIES in several countries like Japan; Korea; UK (Farnborough); France (Paris); UAE (Dubai); Singapore and so on during the year.

Over the years, Ambrosia has evolved and has even moved on to publishing the first Coffee Table Book and now the 3rd edition of the Coffee Table Book is under preparation with lot of additions and deletions looking at the continuous changes in the markets.

Mr. Bhavya Desai, Group Head and CEO, talked about how the Ambrosia Awards and Indspirit 2021 conference had been planned to not only stimulate one’s thinking but one’s senses. He mentioned that a record number of entries had come for this year’s awards, despite the many challenges that surfaced due to the pandemic.

Uttar Pradesh increases license fee, sets excise revenue target at Rs. 40,000 for 2022-23

Uttar Pradesh became the first state to announce its excise policy for the year 2022-23, setting an excise revenue target of Rs. 40,000 crore, up from Rs. 34,500 crore in the previous year. To achieve the target, one of the routes the UP government has taken is to increase the license fee across all categories. The increase ranges from 20% to a whopping 172%, depending upon the nature of license.

Revenue Target

The UP government collects 20% of its annual revenue from excise, however in the last two years, due to Covid, there has been a dip in the collection of excise from the set targets. In 2020 -21 targetted revenue was `37,500 crore which was reduced to Rs. 34,500 crore in the current financial year (21 -22) against which by this year end the expected revenue collection is Rs. 36,000 crore. Considering the positive trends and situation becoming normal the UP government has fixed an optimistic revenue of Rs. 40,000 crore. This is 16% more than the revenue target of 2021-22. The breakup of revenue planned for 22-23 is shown below :

Avenues for Revenue

Licence Fee

To achieve Rs. 40,000 crore, it has increased the licence fee and security amount across all categories of licences. Some of these licences are shown below:

Besides the above mentioned increase, the processing fee for these licences has been increased to `1.0 lac as against Rs. 55,000 for each application.

Brand & Label Registration Fee

Label registration is very tedious work which the entire beverages alcohol industry has to indulge in every year by compromising manufacturing and supplies till new labels are registered. Manufacturers spend a good amount of productivity of its people besides paying the stipulated fee. The industry feels it is difficult to understand the reason for this increase every year. Under the new excise policy, this fee has been increased from 33% to 90%.

Excise Duty

There is a very nominal increase in the Pratifal fee of IMFL. This increase will be between 0.75% – 1.50% maximum per case of 9 litre depending upon the Liquor category (Economy, Medium, Regular, Premium etc.). Similarly for beer the Pratifal fee has been increased by Rs. 1 per litre. At least this is a relief to the industry which has a direct impact on fixation on MRP.

Country Liquor – The Milking Cow

Due to high sales, massive production stakes with minimal import allowed from outside state, country liquor (CL) has always been top priority for various state excise departments. CL’s contribution in overall excise revenue ranges between 45% – 50% every year and therefore a lot of effort is made to safeguard this major chunk of revenue. The UP excise has therefore initiated following steps to ensure its revenue of Rs. 19,140 cr. for the fiscal 2022 -23;

  • Reducing MRP by Rs. 5 per unit of 200 ML
  • Removal of Covid cess
    a) Not increasing the excise duty
  • Removing 42.8% v/v MASALA CL . Now there will be only two types of MASALA CL i.e. 36% & 25% v/v
  • However 42.8% v/v UPML shall continue to sell at reduced MRP

It is very interesting to note that the same UP Govt and state excise department which had become very strict on changing the packaging norms of country liquor last year has changed its decision in just a couple of months . After two subsequent hooch tragedies in western UP in early 2021, the alternatives of the CL in PET bottle were being discussed at high levels of government and in the months of July – August 21 pressure was mounted on the industry to source aseptic brick carton filling machines aka Tetra Pack machine since this kind of packing is considered as 100% tamper proof. In fact few circulars were issued to industry to start supplying at least 20% of CL in Tetra Pack immediately. There was much hue & cry in UP’s distillery sector because there is hardly any manufacturer of this type of filling machine in India and import of this machine can take minimum 90 – 120 days’ time. In the new excise policy this condition has been replaced from Tetra pack to glass bottle packing having a shrink wrap on the cap. This will certainly give a boost to Firozabad (UP) glass industry which has been requesting the government to provide a platform for its revival.

Wine: Still a Mirage

The total excise revenue generated through wine sales in 20 -21 was only Rs. 9.68 crore out of total revenue generated of approx. Rs. 30,000 crore. Wine’s revenue contribution increased to Rs. 29.54 crore in 2021-22 of Rs. 34,500 crore. The growth in wine sales in UP has phenomenally increased by 200% in just one year which clearly shows the scope and opportunities for wines. The increase of revenue is directly proportional to consumption.

At the moment there is not a single winery in UP and to boost the wine industry the government is continuing with its endeavour as provided in its last years excise policy by :

  • Exempting wines produced in UP from all types of excise duty & levy for a period of another four years
  • Allowing vintner to sell wine in a store inside the winery by paying a small annual fee of `50,000 for a year
  • Allowing wine taverns inside the winery.
  • A licence fee of Rs. 57,500 for establishing a winery in UP

The new excise policy also indicates towards a separate new wine policy being prepared. It is suggested that the UP government establish a wine promotion board on the lines of the Karnataka Wine Board which is headed by a knowledgeable and senior IAS officer and other administrative officers who closely work with wine industry to find our more and more avenues for increasing wine production and consumption. Associations and federations like the Indian Wine Academy should also come forward to tap this potential.

Ease of Doing Business

We can see some steps the U.P. government is taking for ease of doing business in the excise policy. Some of these initiatives are:

  • Annual licence fee for home/personal possession of liquor licence has been reduced to Rs. 11,000 from Rs. 12,000 from last year and the refundable security amount has also been reduced to Rs. 25,000 from earlier Rs. 51,000.
  • Wine manufacturing and selling soaps as mentioned.
  • No increase in bar licence fee.
  • Microbrewery can sell/supply craft beer in 50 litre kegs.
  • Wholesale licence can store stocks w. e. f. 15th Feb.22 meant for next excise year.
  • Renewal of retail shops is permitted.
  • No increase in any licence fee and excise duty for defense forces establishments in UP.
  • Rs. 50,000 will be given as discount on the licence fee if bar & microbrewery both licences are applied simultaneously.
  • Track & Trace system to be extended to the retail sales.

Analysis By: Gopal Joshi

Strategist & Consultant

Beverages Alcohol Industry

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