IWSR Drinks Market Analysis has announced the appointment of Julie Harris as its new CEO. The transition comes following Mark Meek’s decision to step back from the CEO role and to take up a non-executive director position within the company, the world’s leading source of data and intelligence for the $1.5 trillion global alcoholic beverage market.
Julie Harris joins from Comparison Technologies, a leading tech-enabled comparison and customer acquisition platform in the home digital services market, where she was CEO since 2019. Prior to this, Julie held several CEO roles across a number of sectors, including WGSN, the global leader in trend forecasting for the fashion and retail industry.
Julie Harris commented, “I am delighted to be joining the very talented team at IWSR at such an exciting stage in its evolution and to build on the phenomenal growth of the last few years. Mark leaves the company in fantastic shape and I look forward to working with our global teams to continue to develop new and exciting products for our valued clients.”
Under Mark Meek’s leadership, IWSR has delivered annual revenue growth of 20% and has significantly expanded the coverage and functionality of its core database. The company has also developed a range of new products, including annual strategic consumer sentiment studies on topical issues such as e-commerce, no-and-low alcohol drinks and the impact of Covid-19. In conjunction with its strong organic growth, IWSR has also completed the acquisition of Wine Intelligence France, broadening its coverage of the wine sector.
Julian Masters, managing partner at Bowmark Capital, leading private equity investor and IWSR majority shareholder, commented, “Mark has been both a great leader of IWSR and partner to Bowmark, driving transformational change during his tenure as CEO. We thank him for his significant contribution to the company’s success and are delighted that we will be continuing to work together in his new role. We look forward to working closely with Julie Harris on delivering IWSR’s next phase of growth and continued product development.”
Mark Meek said, “I’m incredibly proud of what the IWSR team has accomplished, with the support of Bowmark, since the management transitioned from our founder. The business has grown strongly, and we’ve considerably enlarged our talent base and product range. The future continues to look bright. So now, after nearly 10 years, I believe it is a great moment to hand over the reins of the business to the talented Julie Harris. I look forward to being part of the IWSR story as a non-executive and will give Julie all my support to ease her into the new role.”
The rum market is experiencing significant growth, but have you ever tried rum made from jiggery? In this article, we will delve into a review of Two Indies Rum, crafted by Amrut Distilleries, the renowned Indian whisky maker known for putting Indian whiskies on the global stage. Interestingly, Amrut doesn’t just produce Two Indies Rum; they also offer another exceptional rum called Old Port Deluxe Matured Rum. However, our focus today is solely on Two Indies Rum, especially as the winter season approaches, making it the ideal time to explore quality rums. This spirit is priced at ₹1,700 in Mumbai, ₹2,200 in Bangalore, and a wallet-friendly ₹850 in Goa. Furthermore, it’s readily available in numerous states.
Why the name?
The Two Indies Rum was actually conceptualised by the now late CMD Shri Neelakanta Rao Jagdale, wherein he was keen to bring a fusion of two rums, a concept that Amrut has also brought to its whiskey’s. The rum is a tribute to India, its farmers and also to the West Indies, which is where Rum originated from. And because this is blended with matured rums that come from these two countries, it got its name ‘Two Indies Rum’. This rum has won a few international awards and also won the Ambrosia Award for the best premium rum in 2021.
This rum has an interesting and unique story when it comes to its blend. It uses Caribbean rum, specifically from Jamaica, Barbados, and Guyana, which are sent to the Amrut distillery unit in Kambipura, Bangalore where it is mixed and blended with Indian rum, aged about 3 years or less. Also this is made from ‘jaggery’. This approach is pretty different from most manufacturers making rum. For instance, you have rums that are made from molasses, which is used in this also btw. Then you have rum made from cane juices, which is a popular concept. But jaggery is used in making most Indian sweets. So in this case that is the unique blend, which might make this sweet and perhaps this is the only rum in the world that is made out of jaggery.
The Spirit is distilled in both pot and column spirit stills such that the natural congeners of molasses are retained and then skilfully blended after maturation in select oak wood barrels that give a dash of sweetish oakiness on the palate. The rum is made by blending it with molasses ENA and no artificial flavouring has been added, although the bottle says that permitted colours are.
It’s a nice looking bottle, at first glance the bottle actually reminds me of the Gianchand Indian Single Malt, of course Two Indies Rum was launched before that. This is also its new packaging and new avatar, which came in 2020. Earlier this use to come in a different bottle. This is a rum like bottle and the words Rhum-Ron are written since the Caribbean’s has the influence of both French as well as Spanish former colonies. It has 42.8% ABV and the bottle is nice and sleek.
Coming to the nosing, you’ll notice a sweet scent, and it’s pretty strong at 42.8% alcohol. There’s also a hint of nuttiness in the background, but you might need to take a closer sniff to pick it up because the overall dominant aroma is sweetness with some spice notes.
The rum has a nice taste – it’s not too mild or too strong. It’s just right, and it gives you a nice kick of flavour without being too much strong. When you sip it, the taste sticks around, and you can feel a bit of spiciness in your mouth. At first, you might notice a bit of banana flavour, kind of like when you eat the skin of a banana. It also makes your throat feel a little dry, which means it’s a dry drink. There’s also a tiny hint of saltiness, like the taste of nuts with a pinch of salt, but it’s not too strong. One cool thing about this drink is that it starts with a bit of sweetness from the wood it’s made from, like oak. The sweetness starts small and then gets spicier, so it changes as you sip it, and that’s what makes it interesting.
What do we think about Two Indies Rum? Well, let’s talk about rum and how people feel about it. Just like with whiskey or vodka, many people usually have their favourite brands. Some people prefer Old Monk, while others like a stronger taste, especially in the winter. But Two Indies Rum is a bit different. It’s like those fancy single malt whiskeys – it’s an acquired taste. It might not be the rum for everyone, especially if you’re used to regular, mass-produced rums. But if you’re a rum enthusiast and appreciate high-quality products, you should definitely give Two Indies a try.
The Ron De Ugar Rum comes from Ugar Sugars Works Ltd who have been in the Sugar business for about 75 years. And as you know that manufacturing ENA is a natural extension of being in this business and in line with that Ugar Sugar also has a portfolio of spirit products in the market. This is their first rum product and is priced at Rs. 1300 in Goa for a 750 ml bottle. The rum features a 42.8% ABV and is currently only available in Goa and Karnataka, with plans to launch it soon in others states as well.
Why the Name?
It is common to believe if this rum is from India? The name suggests that it might be an international product and honestly I also thought for it to be one at first glance. But this is a 100% Indian handcrafted Rum and it is manufactured in the Ugar Khurd region, which is a small hamlet in the erstwhile princely state of Sangli in the West of India, on the border of Maharashtra and Karnataka. The region is a sugar manufacturing-focused township with large areas under sugarcane cultivation, which is where the distillery is based and also of course this rum is also made there. And since this comes from the Ugar region, its named after it, the ‘Ron de’ has been added to give it some flair of course.
Apart from the name there are few other interesting things about this Rum, and the most important is that this is made from cane spirits and not molasses. Most of the rums that you find in India are made from Molases, whisky’s also in fact. Much like Camicara Rum, which is also a small batch rum made from cane spirit, Ron De Ugar is mixed with mature 3-5 year rums and cane spirit.
Another interesting thing about this rum is the moniker on the rum. When you look at him it seems like an international figure, but this is actually Shivaji’s Naval Commander, Kanoji Angre, who use to monitor that belt and is also known as askilled navy chief hence used here.
How is it made?
So, how exactly is this rum produced? The aged rums are combined with cane spirits and left to mature gradually in Oakwood casks. Afterward, they’re mixed with fragrant spices to create a unique flavour. This rum is crafted and bottled at the Ugar Sugar Works Ltd. in Ugar Khurd, located in the Belagavi district of Karnataka.
Similar to many other rums available in this segment, it comes in a canister. A marron base colour along with gold letterings make it look good and the canister also has some night texture with the picture of the Naval Commander Kanoji Angre on it. The shape of the bottle is similar to that if Monkey Shoulder whisky somewhat.
With an alcohol by volume (ABV) of 42.8%, this rum is undoubtedly smooth while nosing. Its sweetness carries note reminiscent of vanilla, which is evident from the aroma it imparts. There’s a distinct and clear vanilla scent. While there’s not much spiciness, the scent is deep and intense. Taking a whiff of this rum can also provide a pleasant sensation, gently expanding one’s nostrils.
Talking about the taste, as expected, it’s smooth. When the spirit enters the mouth, it feels refined, smooth and also warm. The spiciness hits you slightly late just as the vanilla sweetness fades away. There’s a lingering texture on the palate, offering a warm and comfortable feeling. Interestingly, although the spiciness isn’t obvious at first sip, it becomes evident shortly after. The spiciness is balanced and not overwhelming, providing a relaxed experience. The finish is prolonged, felt at the back of the throat, and carries a warm sensation with a subtle hint of spice. Despite the enticing aroma of vanilla and sweetness, these flavours don’t translate as strongly onto the palate. For a rum with a 42.8% ABVit goes down smoothly.
Priced at ₹1300, this rum certainly falls into the premium category. It’s important to note that this isn’t a budget-friendly option, especially when considering potential higher costs in other states. But the makers are very clear that this is meant to be a handcrafted small batch rum. While the rum is good I would’ve been happier if it would’ve been priced at around Rs. 900 – 1000, it would’ve flown off the shelves then. But overall you must try this for sure, atleast once.
The Founding House of Japanese Whisky partners with film icons Sofia Coppola and Keanu Reeves
Introduces new limited-edition whiskies to toast its centennial
The House of Suntory, the Founding House of Japanese Whisky, celebrates its 100th anniversary of whisky innovation: a major milestone not only for Suntory’s history but for Japanese spirits culture. In honour of this centennial, the House releases a Suntory Anniversary Tribute as imagined by Academy Award-winning director Sofia Coppola and starring actor Keanu Reeves, as well as exclusive 100th anniversary editions of its world-renowned whiskies.
Twenty years after filming Lost in Translation, Sofia Coppola returned to Japan to create the Suntory Anniversary Tribute. Coppola brings her artistic genius and admiration for Suntory Whisky to life as the creative director of The Tribute that honours Suntory’s illustrious past, present and future. The Suntory Anniversary Tribute tells the remarkable story of the brand’s heritage and whisky-making legacy over the last 100 years, depicting the meaning of “Suntory Time” through the eyes of its creator. It features actor Keanu Reeves, a lover of Suntory Whisky and who previously appeared in a Suntory Reserve ad campaign in 1992, debuted yesterday during the Suntory Time 100th Anniversary Global Premiere event in New York City.
“As the pioneer of Japanese whisky, the House of Suntory played a significant role in shaping culture and leading craftsmanship in Japan over the last century,” said Jon Potter, Managing Director of House of Suntory. “To mark this historic milestone, partnering with Sofia and Keanu, who are Suntory Whisky fans, makes perfect sense. From our Fifth Generation Chief Blender Shinji Fukuyo’s striking blends to Sofia and Keanu’s unique cinematic creations, this commemoration has surpassed all expectations to celebrate our iconic Japanese whiskies.”
Later this summer, Reeves will star in another creative project in partnership with the House of Suntory: a series of documentary shorts from filmmaker Roman Coppola titled: “The Nature and Spirit of Japan.” The series explores Japanese whisky culture inspired by harmony with nature (Wa), elevated by Japanese craftsmanship (Monozukuri) and enjoyed as an authentic Japanese cultural experience (Omotenashi). The docuseries will strike a balance between education and entertainment, aiming to foster a deeper exploration of the House of Suntory and Japanese culture overall.
“I’m honored to partner with Suntory Whisky again thirty years after our Suntory Reserve campaign,” said Keanu Reeves. “I’m a huge fan of Suntory Whisky, so it’s very special to collaborate in honour of this milestone anniversary. My admiration for the whisky goes beyond tasting the whisky. It is the elevated Japanese craftsmanship and attention to every detail that makes Suntory Whisky so special. As an actor honing and perfecting my own craft, sharing this process in a docuseries is a thrill.”
In honour of the centennial, the House of Suntory is releasing several limited-edition whiskies that highlight the unique Japanese craftsmanship at Suntory’s whisky distilleries and their meticulous art of blending, including Yamazaki 18 Year Old Mizunara and Hakushu 18 Year Old Peated Malt whiskies. Limited 100th anniversary labels of the flagship Yamazaki 12-Year-Old and Hakushu 12-Year-Old will also be released for the centennial.
“Hakushu and Yamazaki whiskies are gifts from our past handed down by generations,” said Fifth Generation Chief Blender Shinji Fukuyo. “It is fitting to release limited editions as part of this incredible milestone, as they represent our relentless pursuit of quality and symbolise our promise to carry our philosophy on for the next one hundred years and beyond.”
The centennial of the House of Suntory began with the establishment of its Yamazaki Distillery in 1923 – the first and oldest malt whisky distillery in Japan’s history. The House of Suntory founder Shinjiro Torii’s 100-year legacy began with a dream to “create an original Japanese whisky blessed with the riches of Japanese nature and craftsmanship,” which his grandson Shingo Torii carries forth today at Yamazaki and its distilleries across the country. Since its founding, the House of Suntory has been crafting world-class spirits and is known for Yamazaki, Hakushu, Chita, Kakubin, Hibiki, Suntory Whisky Toki and Ao, as well as Roku Gin and Haku Vodka.
This landmark anniversary is a significant milestone for House of Suntory and for its home country of Japan. As a first step toward its promising future, the House of Suntory is investing 10 billion JPY ($77 million USD) to enhance its Yamazaki and Hakushu Distilleries which are currently closed for renovation and scheduled to reopen this fall. The House of Suntory has become synonymous with some of the best Japanese whiskies in the world today, and it has undoubtedly built a legacy worthy of celebration.
The House of Suntory has invited fans to join its new global membership programme. Members will be among the first to hear about House of Suntory new releases, receive priority consideration for invitations to consumer experiences, learn news from the distilleries, gain early access to content and more. The House of Suntory membership programme aims to bring Japanese whisky enthusiasts together around the world and provide a cultural journey through Japan.
Recent years have seen the rise of craft beer, a new crop of premium beer produced in small batches by independent producers. There are now strong indications that the growing demand for craft beer is paving the way for new microbreweries in India.
The beer industry in India has emerged in the last two decades to become a thriving money spinner today. Just a few decades ago, it wasn’t commonplace to find modern bars, restobars, lounges, and even friends sitting over a few beers. Today, there’s a new culture of brewing in India, even among millennials and Gen Zs, and beer has become trendy. As of 2022, the beer market was valued at 383.6 billion, growing at a CAGR of 8.1%, and expected to reach 622.4 billion by 2028.
Recent years have also seen the rise of craft beer, a new crop of premium beer produced in small batches by independent producers, with an emphasis on new and evolving flavours, enthusiasm, and techniques. There are now strong indications that the growing demand for craft beer is paving the way for microbreweries in India. Some industry players believe this is only the start of a journey that can transform the beer scene much more significantly.
Craft beer flexibility and a burgeoning segment
There’s a growing crop of craft beer producers and brands in India who seem determined to take over the beer market with what they call a breath of fresh air. “Being true to style and ingredients, the experience that craft beer provides in terms of flavour, aroma and array of styles has led to the growth of craft beer the world over. We often say that once one has tasted true craft, he’ll never go back to industrial lager, especially if craft is available within reach.
“This is the reason that the world and, indeed, India are seeing the growth of microbreweries. Industrial lager literally offers one-style-fits-all products, whereas craft gives the choice back to the consumer for its preferred taste profile and styles,” said Upesh Gulati, Founder, Strategist, and Master Brewer, Effingut Breweries Pvt Ltd.
Over the years, Effingut has taken pride in introducing patrons to various different styles from around the world. With 16 different craft beers on tap, there is a flavour for each and every patron to enjoy. As of today, Effingut has a pan-India presence with three different verticals across four cities that cater to any kind of patron. This includes the Effingut 2 Go boutique stores, Effingut Bistros, and The Effingut Brewpubs and Taprooms.
Rather than release large batches of single-flavour, often mundane beers, microbreweries offer a variety of tastes and flavours based on the changing preferences of consumers and innovativeness of producers. As more adventurous beer enthusiasts emerge, craft beer makers have to continually innovate and expand to meet growing demands. According to Dr. Nishant Grover, Brew Master at Hotel The Royal Plaza, craft beer has quickly become a trend in India.
“There are several factors responsible for the growth of microbreweries in India. First is the shifting consumer tastes and the desire for distinctive and expensive beverages, as well as the fact that they are becoming more daring and discriminatory in their taste preferences. Second, increasing disposable income has also contributed to the growth of microbreweries, and lastly, we must acknowledge the encouraging government policies that are making microbreweries like our own The Royal Brewery Bistro to thrive,” he says.
Creating richer experiences with richer flavours
Microbreweries like The Royal Brewery Bistro are also being fostered by the craze for the culture by both local and international tourists and beer enthusiasts. This contributes to the overall tourism sector in India. Beyond that, the most important changes are the ones seen in the lives of budding beer drinkers in India. Younger Indians are becoming adventurous and seek out newer tastes each new day.
“After a long hectic day at work, people would stop by a bar to relax with a mug of their favourite beer in hand. But now with changing demographics, millennials and Gen Zs, people’s taste for beer is also undergoing a shift. They are looking for something different to explore and experiment including their consumption of alcoholic beverages. It was only 20 years ago that the first breweries opened in the industrial city of Gurugram. Today, there are microbreweries spurring across the country. Well-known internationally trained brewers are brewing international quality beer recipes in new-world pubs and bars across the country. As the best quality raw material is available with ease, production becomes less hassle, this is why craft beer availability is spreading across the country. Multiple yearly events on brewing and brewing equipment have also propelled information sharing and technical know-how for the industry,” explains Sandeep Singh Katiyar, CEO of The Finch, one of the finest premium luxury lounges in India, known for its extensive range of freshly brewed craft beer.
Breaking the odds, surging ahead
There’s still a long way to go. The craft beer culture may be growing in popularity, but it is still relatively young in India. Brewing has certainly become easier because quality ingredients are easier to come by and the manufacturing process has been simplified. However, there’s a long path ahead, and it is rough and rocky. There’s need for both the central and state governments to support the segment and its operators for them to thrive even better and ensure the growth is smooth.
As Katiyar of The Finch puts it, “The new brewery policies in Haryana, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh have helped craft beer businesses scale to new heights. However, craft beer and microbreweries yet have a long path to cover and have plenty of hindrances to cross in the upcoming years. The industry requires care, support, and nurture from the state and central governments. With the government’s support, the smooth growth of microbreweries can be ensured.”
The idea of authenticity loved by millennials is what is spurring the growth in the industry, and there’s need to support the over 200 microbreweries in India to succeed, while also ensuring new ones emerge, especially in far-flung cities and towns where they’re currently non-existent.
“It’s no secret millennials live life differently. Things no longer matter. Experiences do. Indeed, the potential rise of craft beer has paved way for many microbreweries in India. Millennials are clearly choosing experiences over things, fuelling the homecoming of microbreweries. They now know that there is much to the world of beer than just the dull and mass-produced bottled hard liquor. With hints of chocolate or sweet caramel, floral hops or fruity notes, rich coffee undercurrents and more – the options are tempting and endless. Today, India is now growing its own craft culture one sip at a time, and it will get even better in the future,” notes Anirudh Khanna Managing Director, Independence Brewing Company.
The total sales of Indian-made foreign liquor (IMFL) products were 388 million cases in 2022, up from 305 million cases in the previous year with demand in all major segments like rum, gin, vodka, whisky and brandy rising. The rise has been the sharpest in premium products with their portfolio now accounting for a fifth of all the whisky sold in India and consequently demand for glass bottles and packaging material has shot up.
The bottling and packaging segment is a key component and along with ENA it accounts for over 65% of raw material costs for IMFL operators, who have been requesting price increases from the respective state governments, to offset high input costs.
While excise departments have their own yardsticks to concede price rise, the alcobev industry has to think of ways of bringing down raw material costs. One of the ways is to push their supply partners to go for innovations in glass bottling and packaging. Already, we are seeing a number of new packaging and bottling solutions such as bag-in-box, ceramic glass bottles, bag-intube, whiskey pouches and more. But the premium segment cannot do away with glass bottles as glass has its own charm. Design comes in play here.
All in all, the market of the glass bottle and packaging industry is expected to grow phenomenally, even as some companies are giving up mono-cartons. Extensive R&D to introduce biodegradable and sustainable packaging materials due to rising environmental concerns are fast gaining currency and companies are becoming increasingly environmentally sustainable entities.
Value creation without cutting corners
In view of its importance, Ambrosia at its 2023 Indspirit Conference in Delhi, organised a session on ‘Innovations in Packaging for value creation: cut cost without cutting corners’. The panellists included Srinivas Mantri, Sr Procurement Manager, Beam Suntory India; Vinod Sharma, Assistant Vice President (Commercial) Alcobrew. The session was moderated by Bhavya Desai, Group Head & CEO, SAP Media Worldwide Ltd. who set the tone by stating that in a competitive environment, the alcobev sector had to come up with bottling and packaging innovations for enhancing customer experience.
Abnormal increase in alcobev sales
Mr. Vinod Sharma said that in the last one and a half years, there has been an abnormal increase in alcohol sales and companies need to religiously work on cutting costs in a highly competitive world, without compromising on quality. The alcobev sector is banking on innovation of reducing weight of glass bottle while ensuring that it is not susceptible to breakages.
He mentioned that in the last two to three years there have been several innovations / techniques in bottling and packaging. One is the NNPB (Narrow neck press and blow) technique which can reduce weight of glass bottle up to 10 to 12%. However, over 90% of glass manufacturers in India have not adopted this technology due to initial investment costs. There is no substitute for glass bottle, particularly with premiumisation gaining currency, however glass manufacturers in India do not have adequate infrastructure to make bottles the way some foreign companies do.
Smart caps becoming smarter
The other areas the industry could look at includes smart caps with multiple options now with HDPE and metal combinations. “Smart cap is becoming smarter by the day.” Similarly, shipper cartons there are so many different varieties of material.
Sustainability should be key
Bhavya Desai nudged the panellists to talk about sustainability in packaging and Prof. K. Munshi, former IIT faculty, said while cost cutting is a factor by reducing bottle weight, making it compact etc., the sector should emphasise on value addition and how the consumer is benefitted. He gave a Japanese example where a manufacturer was dispensing Sake in small glasses which could be reused. “Sustainability also means next use of the product.” Most of the packaging is now thrown in to the garbage, he said and urged the industry to ‘put their minds together’ on sustainable packaging.
Innovation officers in companies
Prof. Munshi said presently the onus on cost reduction is on the bottle manufacturer which cannot happen due to reasons best known for the manufacturer. Hence, there is need for the alcobev sector to collaborate with the bottle supplier with regard to innovation. Companies should have innovation officer on board and whose full-time job has to be on innovation and value addition.
No alternative to glass bottles in premium segment
The professor underlined the importance of ‘thought process’ and research. “Whatever new technology comes in, one has to look at shapes, colours, aesthetics, the feel etc. how to get the maximum flavour, how to hold the bottle. These issues need to be looked into in a professional way. The user experience has to be factored in. You see many a time, empty bottles are kept as souvenirs. And as Indian companies we should think of what Indianness we can bring to the product through shapes, colours, culture etc. and how it complements with the bottle and the liquid within.” There is no alternative to glass bottles for premium category of alcobev as consumers do not prefer premium liquor in PET bottles.
Symbiotic relation between technology and design
While the big companies can bring in cost benefit partnering with the suppliers, the small players should leverage the flexibility they have by experimenting to the extent possible to offset costs. There is need for companies, irrespective of the size, to orient themselves to innovation and documenting it, even while adopting the best practices from around the world. Product development departments need boost. “Technology drives design. Development of technology takes a little longer, design is quicker but there is a symbiotic relationship between technology and design.”
Kaizen, continuous improvement to remove inefficiencies
Srinivas Mantri, Senior Manager, Beam Suntory India, talked about how the company came from a ‘Japanese thought process’ where continuous improvement or ‘Kaizen’ was in place. The idea is to keep removing the inefficiencies in the system. “Any innovation in our sector, it should factor in enhancement of customer experience and sustainability, giving back to the society, to nature.”
Beam Suntory is always working on these aspects, he said and mentioned that such processes had been implemented across different SKUs. “We have reduced the weight of the bottle, elevated the feel of the bottle, improved the label panels, reduced breakages.” Talking about glass bottles, he said, ‘see the liquid in the bottle, feel the bottle with hand and then taste the liquid… and also sound of the opening of closure…. consumer experience is involved and is demanding’. “The consumer wants something nice and something new.”
Bars display bottles, not mono cartons
He mentioned how in bars, one does not get to see mono cartons, but only bottles showing the liquid. Underlying the importance of thought process, Mantri said that from sourcing to the brand and to the consumer, there is an evolving journey, hence there is need to work with partners for continuous improvement. To engage the consumer, one needs to research who the consumer is and what we are giving to him or her, then comes tying up with internal and external partners. Importantly, consumer feedback has to be factored in and the entire process is on building the brand and consumer loyalty.
Anuj Bhargava, Managing Director, Kumar Labels, said there is a trend to remove mono cartons and when that happens, the focus is on the label on how it can be more attractive than the competition. Besides taste of the product, consumers pick the bottle for reasons such as the ‘look and feel’. Aesthetics is gaining considerable importance in this highly competitive market.
About 100 odd distilleries in Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and other States producing ethanol have shut operations or are in the process since the supply of subsidised rice from the Food Corporation of India (FCI) has stopped since July 1, 2023. Distillers and associations such as the All India Distillers Association (AIDA) have approached the government to resolve the crisis immediately since it is resulting in distilleries sitting idle on their capacities.
On July 20th, the Government of India further amended the export policy, prohibiting with immediate effect the export of non-basmati white rice. This step was taken in order to ensure adequate availability of non-basmati White Rice for the Indian market and to allay the rise in prices in the domestic market. While this will help stabilise the price of the rixe in the local markets, this decisions have created somewhat of a crisis in the ethanol production and the set targets by the government are not going to be achievable.
The President of AIDA, V.N.Raina told Ambrosia that the Association had approached the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution and also the Ministry of Petroleum, to avert further damage to the industry, by resuming supply of subsidized rice from FCI. The decision of the government he said had resulted in “stopping of grain ethanol industry and no production of ethanol is being carried out. We have apprised them of this issue as availability of damaged grains is almost minimum in the market, the FCI surplus rice must therefore be issued according to the allotments to distilleries immediately to enable the industry meet the goal of reaching 12% ethanol blending by the end of Oct-2023.”
Disrupts entire ethanol programme
Mr. Raina added that the distillery industry has been left without any FCI rice which is the sole feedstock available to the grain-based distilleries. “The stoppage has completely disrupted the entire ethanol programme and distilleries are left with no alternative but to stop production. This is very serious stoppage which must be rectified immediately,” he added.
Asked whether these distilleries could manage with supply of other grains, Mr. Raina said “Although the industry has choice of other grains like damaged rice and maize, but these are not available in sufficient quantity in the market and also the price of ethanol fixed by the govt. against supplies of these grains are unviable for the industry. We have been requesting the govt. to revise the prices to enable distilleries use this alternative also, although the available quantity will not be sufficient to meet the entire requirement for blending target without surplus rice from FCI. As far as sugarcane is concerned, there is nothing against supplies of sugar and sugarcane although this is the off -season period the total entire goal of blending cannot be fulfilled by sugar industry ethanol from grains is vital to fulfill nearly 50% of the total requirement of ethanol for achieving 20% blending by the year 2025-2026.”
As per data made available by FCI, in June 2,77,419.98 metric tonnes of subsidized rice was supplied to distilleries for ethanol production, a 216 per cent increase from 2022 June. In May it was 2.95 lakh metric tonnes.
Government admits shortfall in foodgrains productionThe Minister of State for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti recently informed Lok Sabha that “Considering expected deficiency in rainfall caused by El Nino as speculated by the India Meteorological Department due to which Kharif crop production in the country may be affected…. In order to control inflationary trends and to maintain adequate stock levels under central pool for distribution under National Food Security Act and other welfare schemes for the benefit [of people], sale of wheat and rice under Open Market Sale Scheme (Domestic) for state governments, including Tamil Nadu, has been discontinued with effect from 13.06.2023.”
She further said that “State governments of Karnataka, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu have requested for wheat and rice under OMSS(D) Policy which was not acceded to due to discontinuation of sale of wheat and rice to states under OMSS(D) 2023.”Due to this the supply to distilleries has got affected. However, she mentioned that in 2022-21, subsidized rice supplied for ethanol was 49,000 MT, which increased to 10.68 lakh MT in 2021-22 and 13.05 lakh MT in 2022-23, up to July 10. Of 24 lakh MT supplied to distilleries for making ethanol so far, the maximum — 1.67 lakh MT — has been bought by Chandigarh Distillers & Bottlers Ltd, is followed by Bihar Distilleries and Bottlers Pvt Ltd (1.57 lakh MT), and BCL Industries Ltd (0.13 lakh MT). The government is expected to provide 32 lakh MT rice for ethanol during 2022-23 and with this disruption, it remains to be seen how the government will fulfil that obligation.
The price of rice supplied for ethanol is much lower compared to the economic cost incurred by FCI on procurement and storage operations: these were Rs 3,939.26 per quintal in 2020-21; Rs 3,562.49 in 2021-22; Rs 3,858.19 in 2022-23 (revised estimates); and Rs 3,918.05 per quintal in 2023-24 (BE).
Retail prices going up
The Government, in a statement, has admitted that domestic prices of rice are increasing and that retail prices have increased by 11.5% over a year and 3% over the past month. Export duty of 20% on non-basmati white rice was imposed on 08.09.2022 to lower the price as well ensure availability in the domestic market. However, the export of this variety increased from 33.66 LMT (Sept-March 2021-22) to 42.12 LMT (Sept-March 2022-23) even after imposition of 20% export duty. In the current FY 2023-24 (April-June), about 15.54 LMT of this variety of rice was exported against only 11.55 LMT during FY 2022-23 (April-June), i.e. an increase by 35%. This sharp increase in exports can be ascribed to high international prices due to geo-political scenario, El Nino sentiments and extreme climatic conditions in other rice producing countries, etc.
Non-Basmati White Rice constitutes about 25% of total rice exported from the country. The prohibition on export of Non-Basmati White Rice will lead to lowering of prices for the consumers in the country, the government has stated.
A couple of post-work pints at the local bar is a given for most of us. But sometimes the pub just won’t cut it. Once in a while, a classier night is in order. Luckily, when it comes to dining and drinking in Delhi-NCR, we’re spoilt for choice.
Boasting a contemporary and spacious setting, and a lively cocktail bar basking in the novelty of colourful lights and plush furniture is gorgeous Trippy Tequila, at Gardens Galleria Mall, in Noida. Head here and you’ll be treated to plenty of seasonal drinks and fantastic grubs, alongside DJs headlining late-night events. The outdoor seating, adorned with cute umbrellas and pretty plants, makes it all the better.
What to drink
Breathing life to classic, modern, and inventive cocktails, the bar takes cocktail making very seriously, classifying their crafts in free-spirited, tequila, rum, gin vodka, and other categories.
From their favourites, we went for the Dirty Butterfly – a refreshing concoction of whiskey, cinnamon stick, fresh apple slices, black pepper, and apple juice. On the other hand, The Dusky Sunset cocktail made with vodka, fresh coriander, green chili, guava juice, rock salt, homemade salt rim, and citrus will jab you with a strong spicy punch.
We highly recommend their signature Trippy Tequila Wali Chai – a unique medley of green tea-infused tequila with fresh kaffir lime leaves, passion fruit, and citrus. Teetotalers will love the Beet the Heat mocktail – a beetroot blend with pineapple juice, rock salt, fresh coriander, and elderflowers.
What to eat
Their seasonal food menu keeps things refreshed along with the all-year food menu that consists of sliders, steaks, pizzas, tikkas and a lot more to go with the drinks and opulent setting.
We loved the Watermelon and Goat Cheese Salad with Pesto Balsamic. A twist on the classic caprese salad; scoops of watermelon with lettuce and freshly crumbled goat cheese, and drizzled with pesto balsamic, it’s a perfect dish to kick off summer.
The staff suggested us to try out the crowd-pleasers. Honey Chilli Potato, Laal Mirch Chicken Tikka, Korean Fried Chicken with Cheese, and Charcoal Roasted Garlic Chicken Dimsum. The Korean Fried Chicken with Cheese was double fried to crispy perfection on the outside, while the inside was tender and juicy. Sweet, spicy, savoury – it makes an amazing appetiser. If you love dimsum yet health-conscious, you got to try the Charcoal Roasted Garlic Chicken Dimsum. It’s tender, juicy, and has a distinct smoky after-taste.
The mains menu features an expansive array of dishes from Indian curries to Biryani, Risotto to Pizza and so much more. As we were already full, we ordered for a small portion of Spaghetti Aglio E Olio. Fresh garlic, olive oil, red chilli flakes, and Parmesan cheese tossed with freshly cooked spaghetti – it was the showstopper of our meal.
The warm Dark Chocolate Fudge Brownie with Vanilla Ice Cream and Blueberry Cheese Cake will take care of those with a sweet tooth.
If you’re looking for a quieter time at Trippy Tequila, then visit during the weekdays for lunch. For a bit of weekend night revelry, join in for their live DJ sets from 7.00 pm until the early hours. It can turn into quite a party. For us, Trippy Tequila is one of the best resto-bars in Noida for a bit of booze and a boogie.
Diageo recently announced that Sir Ivan Menezes has decided to retire as Chief Executive Officer and depart from the Diageo Board on 30 June 2023, following ten successful years leading the Company. Debra Crew, currently Chief Operating Officer, will be appointed Chief Executive Officer and join the Diageo Board, effective 1 July 2023.
Ivan joined Diageo through the merger of Guinness plc and Grand Metropolitan plc in 1997 and has held a number of senior positions in the business including Chief Operating Officer; President, Diageo North America; Chairman, Diageo Asia Pacific; and Chairman, Diageo Latin America and Caribbean. Ivan has been an Executive Director of Diageo since July 2012 and has served as Chief Executive Officer since July 2013, overseeing an outstanding period of change, growth and high performance.
During Ivan’s tenure, Diageo has made great strides towards its ambition to become one of the best performing, most trusted and respected consumer products companies in the world. Diageo has grown significantly during this period, now selling over 200 brands in more than 180 markets and is today, the number one company by net sales value in Scotch whisky, vodka, gin, rum, Canadian whisky, liqueurs, and also tequila, a category in which only eight years ago the company had no substantive position. And in December 2022, Guinness became the number one beer in the on-trade in Great Britain for the first time.
Led by Ivan, Diageo has developed a leadership position in sustainability, becoming one of the top 1% of companies globally to achieve a “Double A” rating for Water Security and Climate Change from CDP (formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project), as well as a particularly strong stance on inclusion and diversity, with the company ranked number one in the UK, and number two globally, in Equileap’s 2023 Gender Equality Report. And with Debra’s appointment as Chief Executive Officer, women will make up more than 50% of Diageo’s Executive Committee from 1 July 2023. During the past decade, Diageo’s total shareholder returns have strongly outperformed the FTSE100, and the Company has continued its progressive policy to increase dividends every year. In January 2023, Ivan was awarded a Knighthood for services to Business and to Equality in His Majesty The King’s 2023 New Year Honours List.
Prior to being appointed Chief Operating Officer in October 2022, Debra was President, Diageo North America and Global Supply, leading Diageo’s largest market to 14% organic net sales growth in fiscal 2022, following on from 20% organic net sales growth in the prior year. Debra originally joined the Diageo Board as a Non-Executive Director in April 2019, before stepping down from the Board when appointed President, Diageo North America in July 2020.
Debra is the former President and CEO of Reynolds American, Inc., where she delivered strong performance growth before the company’s acquisition, having previously served as President and Chief Operating Officer, and President and Chief Commercial Officer. Prior to that, Debra spent five years at PepsiCo, where she served as President, North America Nutrition; President, PepsiCo Americas Beverages; and President, Western Europe Region. Prior to PepsiCo, Debra held positions with Kraft Foods, Nestlé S.A. and Mars, Inc.
Debra is a graduate of the University of Denver, earned an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, and previously served as an officer in the United States Army. She currently serves on the board of Stanley Black & Decker, Inc., having previously served on the boards of Newell Brands and Mondēlez International.
Javier Ferrán, Chairman, Diageo, said: “The Board is enormously grateful for Ivan’s contribution over the past decade. Under his stewardship, Diageo has consistently delivered a truly impressive performance to become one of the most respected businesses in the world. Ivan has transformed Diageo’s global footprint, brand portfolio and strategic focus, positioning our business as a clear leader in premium drinks. At the same time as delivering consistent shareholder returns, Ivan has nurtured a diverse and talented global workforce and made significant progress on the most material sustainability issues facing our business. Ivan leaves Diageo extremely well positioned for future growth, and we thank him again for everything he has helped us to achieve.
The Board has diligently planned for Ivan’s successor, and we are delighted to have appointed a leader of Debra’s calibre to the role. Debra has been a highly valued member of Diageo’s leadership team in recent years with an impressive track record of delivery both at Diageo and across other global consumer goods companies. She has deep consumer industry expertise as well as proven strategic capabilities, strong operational performance and a clear ability to build and lead teams. I have no doubt that Diageo is in the right hands for the next phase of its growth.”
Sir Ivan Menezes, Chief Executive Officer, Diageo, said, “It has been an enormous honour leading Diageo over the past decade. I am extremely proud of what we have achieved during that time, and I would like to thank my 28,000 talented colleagues around the world for all of their hard work, creativity and passion. I would also like to thank the Board for their encouragement, challenge and support over the years.
Uttar Pradesh better known as the ‘Granary of the Nation’ is the largest sugarcane and wheat producer and the second largest rice producer in the country. In its bid to become one of the top states every which way, the Yogi Adityanath led BJP government has set itself a target of becoming a one trillion economy by 2027, for which it is laying out the red carpet for different industries, infrastructure project development, agri-produce and more. One of the verticals which is doing well is the alcohol production sector and here the Secretary General of the Uttar Pradesh Distillers Association, Rajneesh Agarwal talks about the efforts being made by the industry, the association and the state government in pushing the envelope further.
Tell us how Uttar Pradesh is a land of limitless opportunities?
Rajneesh Agarwal (Agarwal): Uttar Pradesh is indeed a land of limitless opportunities in the distillery/alcohol sector due to several reasons. Firstly, UP is the largest producer of sugarcane in India, which is a primary raw material for alcohol production, making the State an attractive destination for investment in the alcohol industry.
Secondly, the state has a diverse agricultural base that includes grains such as maize, wheat, and barley, which can be used as alternative raw materials for alcohol production and the government is encouraging the same, thus increasing the capacity of distilleries and reducing their reliance on traditional raw materials like sugarcane and molasses.
Thirdly, with a population of over 240 million people, UP has a large and growing consumer market for alcohol. Also with rising incomes and changing consumer preferences, the demand for premium quality alcohol and varieties of alcohol is increasing, supplemented with streamlined licencing process.
Finally, UP has a well-developed transportation network, with several major highways and railway lines passing through the state. This makes it easier for distilleries to transport their products to customers across the country and the world.
What has been a game-changer for the distillery sector in UP?
Agarwal: There are many factors – Expansion of Alcohol production; Ease of doing business; Robust government policies; and growing consumer base.
a. Expansion of alcohol production: In 2018, the UP government announced the new excise policy that allowed the production of ethanol from alternative feedstocks, such as maize, barley, and wheat. This decision supplemented with streamlining of licensing system and restoration of working hours from sunrise to sunset were all game-changers, opening up new opportunities for distilleries to diversify their raw material base and expand their production capacity.
In 2017-18 there were 60 distilleries in UP with total installed capacity of 161 Cr. litres of alcohol production, which in 2022-23 jumped to 85 distilleries with 346 Cr litres of alcohol production, a growth of 115% in a span of five years. While 20 grain distilleries have established in just last one year, 20 more distilleries are in the pipeline which will produce another 80 Cr. litres of alcohol.
The decision to allow the production of ethanol from alternative feedstocks was a significant shift from the state’s traditional focus on sugarcane and molasses as the primary raw materials for alcohol production. This has helped to reduce the reliance of distilleries on these traditional feedstocks and create new business opportunities for farmers and other stakeholders in the supply chain.
The policy has also helped to boost the state’s ethanol production capacity, which has significant implications for the biofuel sector. Ethanol produced from alternative feedstocks can be used as a fuel additive to reduce emissions in the transport sector, which is a key focus area for the Indian government’s energy policy.
b. Ease of doing business
The excise policies in recent years has a significant positive impact on the distillery sector in UP. It has made it easier for distilleries to obtain licenses and permits, reducing bureaucratic hurdles and increasing the ease of doing business in the state. The reduction in taxes on liquor has also made alcohol more affordable for consumers, leading to an increase in demand for alcohol in the state.
Additionally, the policy has encouraged investment in the alcohol industry in Uttar Pradesh, leading to the establishment of new distilleries and expansion of existing ones. This has helped to increase the capacity of the distillery sector in the state and generate employment opportunities for local residents.
c. Robust government policies
There have been robust and encouraging government policies from 2017 onwards. In potable liquor segment itself specific to Country Liquor (mammoth volumes with significant revenue to the state exchequer) the distillery sector volumes have grown 2.3x or at a compounded annual growth rate of 18%.
The total Excise Duty collection increased from ₹17000 Cr. in 2017-18 to ₹41000 Cr. in 2022-23. To sustain this industry growth, an investment of approx. ₹10,000 Cr. has been made by distilleries including an investment of around ₹3000 Cr. for setting up grain alcohol plants.
UP has been primarily producing over 200 Cr. litres of alcohol from molasses and there has been a paradigm shift of producing alcohol from grain too. Over 20 grain distilleries have been established in this short span which are producing around 62 Cr. litres of grain alcohol. Overall, as on date UP has over 85 molasses and grain distilleries producing nearly 350 Cr. liters of alcohol making a massive growth of 150% in less than two years.
UP has been a major contributor in the country’s ambitious ‘Ethanol Blending Programme’ having achieved highest blending of 11.89% with the national average of 11.56% as in March’23.
Tell us about the investments that are coming in this sector?
Agarwal: UP’s alcohol sector is all set to get a shot in the arm with investments worth ₹16,392 crores. According to the state’s excise department, ahead of the Global Investors summit, the department signed 17 MoUs for setting up industries based on distillery, brewing and alcohol products. Along with this, letters of intent have been given for investments worth ₹1400 crore. These include distilleries, breweries, microbrewery, yeast units, malt manufacturing units and caramel manufacturing units.
What efforts are being made to meet the demand for 20% EBP and potable alcohol industry?
Agarwal: To meet the target of 20% EBP by 2025 it is estimated that 1150 – 1200 crore litres of alcohol would be required for ethanol purposes. In present context of having achieved over 11.5% blending, the sugar / molasses capacities for alcohol production are nearing saturation. Moving forward, grain would be the primary source to meet the 20% EBP programme.
In UP over 20 grain distilleries have come up in a short span, with 13 more grain distilleries expected by 2024. Overall UP is expected to have over 20 new distilleries (Grain + Molasses) in the next one year.
However, the Ethanol producers within the State and pan India are presently facing operational challenges due to severe shortage and availability of broken rice and damaged food grains (DFG) at the prevailing prices of the government. Ethanol producers are jointly seeking an SOS upward price revision with the Central Government for both broken rice and DFG to put Ethanol producers back on momentum.
What kind of investments have been made to increase grain capacity for potable liquor in UP, a state which has seen industry volumes grow by 2.6 times and expected to double in the next five years?
Agarwal: To sustain this industry growth, an investment of approx. ₹10,000 Cr. has been made by distilleries including an investment of around ₹3000 Cr. in setting up grain alcohol plants in UP. With 13 more grain plants itself expected by 2024 will have an additional Investment of more than ₹1200 Cr.
The state government has approved establishment of distilleries based on molasses, grains, potatoes etc. Could you let us know if the UP distillers have taken that route?
Agarwal: Traditionally, many distilleries in Uttar Pradesh have been based on molasses, as the state is one of the largest producers of sugarcane in India. However, in recent years, there has been a growing trend towards using alternative raw materials such as grains, potatoes, and other vegetables, which can provide a more diverse and sustainable supply of raw materials for the industry. Some distilleries in UP have already taken this route and started using grains like maize, barley, and wheat to produce alcohol. For example, in 2019, a distillery in the state started using maize as a raw material for alcohol production. Similarly, there are distilleries in UP that are using potatoes to produce alcohol, taking advantage of the state’s large potato production. The government is launching numerous schemes and incentives to develop agro-processing industries in UP.
The UP government has allowed production of Absolute Alcohol of Pharma grade, could you give us an update on the same?
Agarwal: The production of pharma-grade absolute alcohol in UP is expected to substitute imports and reduce the country’s dependence on imported alcohol. The state government has allocated land to set up a pharma-grade alcohol plant and several companies have expressed interest in setting up such plants.
The UP government in April’22 has given permission to commence production of Absolute Alcohol of Pharma grade from Cane crushing season of 2022-23. This has paved way for self-reliance on Absolute Alcohol of Pharma grade which till now is dependent on imports from countries like USA, Australia, China etc. The State has envisioned production capacity of 25 lac litres from the total requirement of nearly 50 lac litres currently, saving revenue of around ₹10 cr. in import substitution.
What are the challenges for distillers in UP, regulatory or otherwise, and how can the government resolve it?
Agarwal: Today, UP is proud to hold its head high for turning the major challenges into opportunities. The rapid expansion and overall growth in past years is quite evident of this fact. However, the government continues to make radical reforms in the policies in ease of doing business, simplified regulatory environment, rationalising taxes & duties, expansion of infrastructure development with better road & rail connectivity etc. The ground water being the main source of irrigation, the State’s Environmental Board is taking various measures to avoid over exploitation of ground water.
Tell us about the role of UPDA in promoting the sector?
Agarwal: The UP Distillers Association (UPDA) is an apex body of distillery industry with nearly 90 distilleries. The Association is a 40-year-old body, actively rendering services as interface between its members and both State & Central Government authorities primarily through its advocacy role for policy makers and resolving issues of the industry.
To tap the limitless opportunities, UPDA is fast spreading its wings in international arena to explore and adopt best practices and technologies across the world. In recent years, under the close guidance of UPDA President – Mr. S.K. Shukla and Vice-President – Mr. Manish Agarwal, the association has ensured industry benefits.
The UPDA conducted its first International Summit in Aug’22 with six countries participating. The second UPDA International Summit will be held in July 2023, showcasing global innovation technologies with USA, Brazil, Israel and many more countries, besides home grown technologies.
This was followed by a visit to Brazil a delegation jointly organised by the All India Distillery Delegation and the UPDA, with the objective to explore synergy and business avenues of mutual interest between Indian and Brazilian distilleries and technology providers. Brazil has achieved 27% blending in 2G ethanol.
UPDA-AIDA are planning their next distillery delegation visit to USA under an exchange programme which will explore:
1) Corn supply chain model comparison between, India and Brazil & India and USA.
2) Corn cultivation and corn grains productivity enhancement in India, GM corn cultivation in India, testing of new corn cultivators from USA, and developing a holistic model for the corn growing farmers and industry.
3) Ethanol production technology transfer from corn grains and from corn biomass (cobs and leaves-corn stover).
4) DDGS (Dry Distillers Grains Soluble) valorization, Proteins recovery from DDGS and purification, Oils recovery from DDGS and its profiling, Develop of DDGS based holistic nutritive and palatable feed for cattle and poultry.
UPDA is in process of collaboration with ‘Invest India’ wherein UPDA will interface and support bringing investments & technologies, with initial focus in bio-fuels sector and grain based distilleries.
Will UP become the distilleries hub, if so, by when and what are you betting on? How many distilleries are there in UP and how many of them are your members?
Agarwal: Out of the around 520 distilleries in India, UP itself has nearly 90 distilleries with nearly 33 more distilleries coming up in 2024. These numbers show that UP is already a distinctive hub.
UP Distillers Association’s a prime focus all along has been on potable distilleries and now fast catching up with the industry at large on grain and ethanol producing distilleries. Presently, UPDA has 16 members on board which produce over 90% of the potable Country liquor requirement of the State. UPDA takes pride in having on-board Patron members such as Radico Khaitan Ltd., India Glycols Ltd., Wave Group, Sir Shadi Lal Industries and Superior Industries. Country Liquor sales of over 9 Crores cases per annum contributing significantly to the overall excise revenue of over ₹41k Crores with target of ₹45k Crores in 2023-24.