Tag Archives: liquor

No More Liquor allowed from Goa in Maharashtra?

Liable for Criminal Charges

As per reports Maharashtra’s Excise Department will now, not allow to carry even 1 alcoholic bottle from Goa into Maharashtra. The news comes on the instructions of Shambhuraj Desai, the State Excise Minister due to the increase in the transport of the illicit alcohol across the border of Goa and Maharashtra.

According to the Excise officials there has been an increase in the confiscated liquor at the borders entering Maharashtra at various checkpoints, with smugglers carrying high quantity of bottles.

The Excise Minister has not only asked the officials to be strict, but also also asked them to invoke the MCOCA against them, which allows the Police to liable criminal charges. While the primary target of these will be smugglers who transport alcohol in large quantities, how this affects the regular consumer remains to be seen. Since it is common for consumers to buy alcohol at cheaper prices from Goa to bring home in other States.

Price has always been the biggest motivator for consumers to carry bottles from Goa into other States since alcohol bottles range from a disparity in pricing as it moves towards the upwards range. Most bottles have a price disparity of nearly 35-40% or more in Maharashtra/other states as compared to Goa. Although the smuggling is seen more in IMFL brands and not imported brands, a regular consumer is often seen carrying imported brands as well.

Updates for Flights from Goa:

Currently there is no indication that consumers aren’t allowed to carry alcohol in flights from Goa. While the focus of these checkpoints is expected to be on road, there isn’t any information on the alcohol carried by air by consumers. The stipulated limit for carrying alcohol from Goa is 4-5 litres by air. Although carrying even 1 bottle isn’t permitted by law, consumers do carry their stipulated limit often when flying out of Goa.

Ambrosia will try and speak to the Excise Officials to get more updates on the same and will update the article periodically. So do check back to see if there have been any changes to that rule.

With December around the corner, Goa is expecting a high influx of visitors like every year and it is expected that these users will carry alcohol back to their home States. Incase you are traveling by road then do expect some stringent checking at the Goa-Maharashtra borders, while the scenario with flights continues to be the same with no challenges yet for carrying alcohol.

But in an interview with TOI, Ravindra Awale, Kolhapur’s Excise Superintendent stated that they are going to set up portable cabins along the unattended roads between Goa and Maharashtra to plug in the smaller roots. “Right now, we have proposed action under section 93 of the Maharashtra Prevention of Dangerous Activities Act against repeat offenders. Applying MCOCA will help bring down the number of cases.”

Sterling Reserve B10 Whisky Review

Sterling Reserve B10 whisky is made by ABD, which is Allied Blenders and Distilleries, the largest manufacturer of IMFL spirit by volume. The whisky is priced at Rs. 1,350 in Maharashtra and it is available almost Pan India. The reason why this whisky is called ‘B10’ is because it is supposed to give the experience of 10 different flavours to the consumer. If you are more of a video person then you can check out the video review on top as well.

Before we start talking about Sterling Reserve let’s take a look at ABD. So ABD is a very renowned name in the industry and has been in the market for decades now. One of their best- known millionaire brands is Officers Choice, which also is a category leader in that segment. For ones who don’t know what a millionaire brand is, millionaire brand means that it sells more than a million cases in a year, which isn’t an easy feat to achieve.

Now what is interesting is that this is also a millionaire brand which means it automatically puts pressure on it to taste good. This whisky is placed in the same segment as Blenders Pride and Antiquity Blue. So basically, this is positioned in a category where you have some of the best premium and highest selling Indian whisky’s honestly. This whisky comes in two variants, B7 which is positioned in the popular category and of course this, which is the B10. If we talk about the blend of this whisky, then there isn’t much clarity about the age of the malts that have been used in this. But this uses imported Scotch malts, which means malts that have aged at least 3-year’s have been used. This is combined with the Indian grain spirits with the Scotch Malts used from different barrel origin including bespoke bourbon oak casks. Naturally there is neutral spirits that are used as well in this since it has Indian grain spirits as well. Now this whisky is also chill-filtered, which means it won’t change colour when you add ice or water to it.

Packaging

If we talk about the packaging of the brand, then it is very clear that ABD wanted to create an impact since it is a tough market and they have spent a considerable time on this packaging as well. In comparison with blenders and antiquity it is the only brand that comes in a canister, which shows how serious they are about this category. In terms of packaging, it gives you a feel of the premiumness like others as well. They’ve gone with the deep Purple as the base colour and I think it could be coz they want to stand out on the shelf and they’ve managed to achieve that as well to some extent. In terms of the bottle as well it is nice and reminiscent of Indian whisky bottles.

Nosing

In terms of the nosing you get some honeyed sweetness, nuttiness of the barley and a fruity and heathery nose.

Tasting

The ABV is 42.8% and it gives you that punch as you taste it. The flavours of oak are clear and also a sweet flavour also comes from the whisky. Although it feels like honey but it is more of vanilla. There is a fruit as well which I think it berries. The finish is meduim-longish and honestly it is difficult to identify 10 flavours honestly but the whisky does seem smooth.

Conclusion

So what do we think about the Sterling Reserve B10 whisky? For a price of Rs. 1,350 in Maharashtra it is already a very popular brand. It gives you that mix of nice flavours, smooth refines for the price and you really can understand why the people who have this brand swear by it and won’t touch anything else. It is not something that you can have on the rocks naturally like most of the whisky’s in this segment. But with water or a mixer of your choice is suited. Maybe you can try it next when you are going to have any whisky’s in this segment and let us know how it is in the comments.

Indian liquor trends pre and post COVID

The Covid-19 pandemic has continued to impact India since its arrival in spring last year. The government initially reacted by imposing a national lockdown from 23rd March to 4th May last year. The on-trade was completely closed, as were most liquor shops in every state. Places of work shut down, so many young office workers left the urban centres. With the on-trade stifled, retail purchases and consumption of beverage alcohol at home became the norm in most mainstream categories. In India, however, women and younger consumers still feel uncomfortable drinking in front of more conservative parents and family members at home. Limitations on space and refrigeration favoured spirits over beer, RTDs and – especially for young urban women – wine, all of which are usually consumed cold.

The implications of the pandemic response for India’s status as a federal republic soon became clear. The importance of excise duty income from alcohol, tobacco and fuel was brought into sharp relief as revenue streams dried up and the diminishing income from national taxes, such as GST, were used to offset fiscal shortfalls at state level. Most states responded by increasing excise duties – often suddenly and steeply – as well as charging taxpayers one-off cess payments, commonly levied by central governments for a specific purpose. Unusually, this cess (tax on tax), commonly levied by central government for a specific and clearly defined purpose (and not shared with state governments), has been applied in a number of instances at state level as a Corona-cess. Some states have been more reluctant than others to review, reduce or cancel such supposedly temporary measures. For instance, Andhra Pradesh – where the government had tried to enforce prohibition before the pandemic – imposed a 75% excise duty incre for two days just as the national lockdown ended last May; and on the same day, Delhi imposed a 70% cess on the maximum retail price (MRP) of all liquor, which remained until 7th June.

The timing of the lockdown could not have been worse, especially for beer. The category relies on young urban drinkers and after-work occasions and its peak season for consumption was about to start. When lockdown ended, bars and restaurants re-opened in most states, but were limited to 50% occupancy, and workers were slower to return to offices. Many are still working from home or – during Q1 2021 – have returned to it.

Compared to some countries, where citizens often remained risk-averse and pessimistic after the first lockdown, Indian consumer confidence seemed to bounce back quickly. Many Indians assumed – wrongly – that their everyday hygiene challenges afforded them a high degree of natural immunity to the coronavirus.

The past year has confirmed that India is squarely a brown spirits market. Whisky absorbs two-thirds of consumption in this market; brandy – with a strong presence in the south – takes 20%; and rum takes around half of that. In a total market that has shrunk by around one-fifth, whisky declined only slightly less than brandy and rum, which fell around one-quarter. Beer and RTDs suffered precipitous falls, deprived of many of the venues and occasions that had driven consumption forward. All clear spirits witnessed steeper declines in consumption than dark spirits: in each category, sales of domestically produced brands bottled in India (BII) fell away faster. Even allowing for the experimentation evident in categories such as Irish whiskey, consumers sought out brands that they knew, had earned equity and had consistent quality. In short, they sought out certainties.

Two other fundamental shifts have also occurred. Firstly, the premiumisation trend – evident before the pandemic – saw some importers shift their focus to retail, increasing its offering of high-end brands, which were previously targetted at Duty-Free and at the on-trade. Disposable income spent on going out to eat and drink before the pandemic was instead often redirected to premium-and-above products for at-home consumption. Secondly, as a corollary to this and confirming the pressure on the mainstream, was down-trading out of Indian-made foreign liquor (IMFL), either bottled in origin (BIO) or BII.

Budget-conscious consumers instead chose either country liquor or illicit alternatives, having long been deprived of licensed outlets in which to purchase their nips.

The on-trade closure has also impacted routes to market and the supply chain and it increasingly determines choice. When all outlets closed, some states permitted home delivery, which many thought heralded the long-expected rise of the e-commerce channel. In reality, this was an expedient option for retail outlets: e-commerce has not seen a consequent increase in regulation or investment since. On the contrary, drinks ordering apps, such as Hipbar, appear to have been actively discouraged.

The effects of a six-week shutdown of alcohol supply lasted long after it ended: restocking and logistics issues extended out-of-stock occurrences well into the summer months. Importers often found it difficult to source supplies as exporters were reluctant to ship to trading partners in an uncertain economy, not least because they wanted to avoid passing on rising logistics costs to consumers.

One of the responses, driven by leading country liquor suppliers, has been the emergence of intermediate or medium liquor produced locally: this refers to a price band of distilled liquor sold under licensed quota in certain states – presently Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh only – competitively priced between country liquor/IMIL (Indian-made Indian liquor) and IMFL. Commonly the price, set by the state, is at a 25% premium to the country liquor price, a similar proportion lower than IMFL pricing.

This system has the additional benefits of almost guaranteeing state excise income and reducing the occurrence of country liquor-related health issues through better-quality product. In theory, this model should be attractive to many more states. In practice, its implementation may be limited by the relative scarcity of country liquor distillers able to produce medium liquor of the requisite quality. Nevertheless, with investment and a little covert encouragement from the states, that provision will doubtless evolve over time.

In a decentralised India, the domestic beverage alcohol industry relies on a relatively small number of states for its success. The top three states – Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and West Bengal – account for one-third of India’s population. The top six states account for half of the population. West Bengal is the only corporate state: the beverage alcohol industry is regulated directly through a state body. By contrast, the five largest states in the south are each home to beverage alcohol corporations.

This complexity and large size of India means that there are very few companies that are truly national. Even those that are considered national – thanks to a contract bottling network – still retain large regional brands in their portfolios. There is a small number of multinationals twinning domestic production with imports that are focussed on urban distribution shared among importers and wholesalers. India has a larger number of local distillers aspiring to convert their regional origins into a multi-region or national presence; and there are many smaller distillers, the majority of whom supply locally. Most distillers, therefore, will only be trading in one or two jurisdictions and navigating one or two bureaucracies. For the larger players, these challenges are manifold.

The second half of 2020 saw the Indian beverage alcohol market emerging quickly and largely unscathed from Covid-19 and lockdown. Leading spirits companies in particular were reporting quarterly revenues and volumes that had recovered to pre-pandemic levels. This was in spite of the on-trade remaining stifled, e-commerce failing to expand and the regulation and excise duty rises imposed by most states. However, by the second quarter of this year – the beginning of the new financial year for most corporations – this initial optimism about rapid recovery has somewhat evaporated.

The picture, though, is mixed. India’s federal state model shows up the inconsistencies between states: decisions can often be arbitrary, poorly thought through and political rather than practical, but a successful model in one state can be swiftly adopted in another. On the one hand, the Delhi state government’s legislation lowering the legal drinking age from 25 to 21 is positive for the industry. On the other, Andhra Pradesh will join Bihar, Gujarat and some other smaller states and territories to prohibit alcohol for around 250m people, which is nearly one-fifth of the population.

It cannot be overstated how the pandemic and its effects demonstrated the importance of beverage alcohol revenues to individual states’ budgets. Some state governments recognise this and are approaching their beverage alcohol policy with pragmatism by listening to the industry more attentively.

The key issues revolve around the temporary and permanent changes brought about by the pandemic. Office work may have changed permanently, calling into question whether or not urban on-trade lighthouse accounts will recover. It is uncertain when occupancy rates in on-trade venues rise above the current 50% constraint. The medium liquor system may see expansion into further states. It is also questionable whether premiumisation will persist or the second Covid-19 wave will dent consumer confidence fundamentally.

The wider economy, of course, is a determining factor. Declining disposable income has particular relevance for beverage alcohol spend. The industry is circumscribed by its investment in advertising and promotion. The pandemic has sharpened the senses of many executives and players, but left others close to collapse, unable to survive further uncertain events. States have pursued short-term solutions throughout the pandemic and it is unknown if this approach will persist. However, it is likely that the distilling capacity of the domestic industry will not grow. This has implications for all, given the contract-bottling model that has enabled the largest players to become truly national.

General Forecast Assumptions

On-Trade – In some states, the on-trade had re-opened up to 85% of its former capacity by Q1 2021. However, the occupancy restriction to 50% remains, so the real throughput is also likely to be at 50%. This will continue to affect beer and RTDs. Furthermore, on-trade sub-channels are re-opening at different rates.

Restaurants opened faster than bars; and bars faster than night venues. Whilst this appears to affect wine and premium spirits in higher-end outlets, the impact will be mitigated by the flexibility of suppliers, many of whom have switched attention to retail and targetting wealthier consumers.

Medium Liquor – Consumers in some states are now being offered a wider choice. Those who had traded down to country liquor may choose medium liquor instead of IMFL. Currently this is available in Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, but more states may institute this. A significant number of consumers may prefer the taste and the brands on offer in the category to IMFL.

E-commerce – When three of the larger eastern states – West Bengal, Chhattisgarh and Jharkand – permitted home delivery of alcohol, it was thought e-commerce would, at last, be stimulated by the lockdown conditions. They were soon joined by Orissa and Maharashtra. However, steep delivery charges, regulatory uncertainty, a reluctance to invest and a poor delivery-logistics framework continue to hamper growth, as well as the nature of Indian e-commerce defined on the invitation issued by the West Bengal authorities as “handling the electronic ordering, purchase, sale and home delivery of alcoholic liquors from licensed food [and liquor] outlets”. Retail competitors required to pay for annual licences have lobbied against the channel as well. Some significant platforms – Amazon, Flipkart (Walmart), Big Basket, Swiggy, Zomato and the mobile app Hipbar, reportedly backed by Diageo and, in Mumbai, Living Liquidz – responded to state-level invitations to get involved after the Supreme Court ruled in favour of home delivery from licensed retail. However, it has become clear that any bureaucratic encouragement of home delivery has primarily been one of a range of responses to the crowds that gathered outside liquor shops last year and, while recurring lockdowns may help to accelerate e-commerce, the channel will not significantly impact the industry for the foreseeable future. Informal delivery, where customers call up the liquor store and get an order dropped off by moped, already existed and will continue.

Regulation – Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state, had previously imposed a cess of 20 per bottle of beer. West Bengal, the fourth most populous state, increased consumer tax by 30%. Rajasthan, the sixth most populous, enacted both, adding20 per bottle and imposing a 10% increase in consumer tax. Their approach is unlikely to change. Additionally, the election in Bihar state did not return a government willing to reverse prohibition. Andhra Pradesh’s government was unable to enact prohibition but has discouraged some national players by making trading there problematic. However, it is assumed there is no foreseeable regulatory movement throughout the forecast period.

Consumer Base Expansion – India’s population is approaching 1.4bn, with less than half being of legal drinking age. The actual number of alcohol consumers is believed to be closer to 160m, only 7.5% of whom are women. Per capita rates for beer and RTDs remain low at around 1.2 litres for men and 150ml for women, re-calculated at 10 litres and 1.25 litres on estimated drinking population numbers. Wine has similar rates to RTDs, spirits are 1.8 litres per capita and nearly 15 litres on a re-calculated basis. There are more younger consumers joining the potential drinking population every year. Uptake by women reportedly increased during the pandemic.

At-Home Consumption – This trend is likely to persist beyond the pandemic. Wealthier consumers of premium spirits and imports spend for indulging at home and for gifts. The wedding industry will revive: most wine suppliers are focussing on higher-end offerings, educating consumers about its accessibility and suitability during meals, as well as drinking before and after. Beer and RTDs will find difficulty switching as their core message is based on going out and socialising rather than at-home consumption, and most consumers have insufficient refrigeration space at home.

Key Market Factors

Cultural – The legal drinking age varies from state to state. In most states it is 21, but 25 in the populous states of Haryana and the Punjab. In Maharashtra it is 21 for beer and wine, and 25 for liquor. Bigger states with a drinking age of 18 include Rajasthan in the north and Kerala in the south. Delhi is about to lower its LDA from 25 to 21.

Three states with larger populations prohibit alcohol. Gujarat has been dry for the longest, with Bihar and now Andhra Pradesh having imposed prohibition more recently. Outcomes are mixed, with Bihar and Andhra Pradesh reportedly having some of the highest per capita consumption rates for beverage alcohol nationally once illicit alcohol is factored in.

Demographic – A key driver of consumption has been urbanisation, particularly among younger LDA drinkers. The lockdown appears to have reversed this, with young office workers returning to their parents’ houses in smaller cities, towns and the countryside.

The overall population is nearly 1.4bn and grows by 15–20m or more every year. The drinking population is considerably smaller: at least half can only afford very cheap country liquor, which is largely unbranded alcohol with an estimated market of 250–285m cases.

The rapidly growing middle classes, who can afford premium-and-above, may number more than 150m. However, 98% of middle-class women and more than 20% of men are said not to drink for philosophical, religious or cultural reasons.

Some 49% of the population is aged under 19, and few drink, although younger consumers are generally more willing to consume alcohol than many of their parents. This leaves a market of between 25m and 30m people with the inclination and resources to drink IMFL.

Economic – There is little state support in India and wellbeing is the individual’s responsibility. With livelihoods uncertain but a young population inclined to optimism, the second Covid-19 wave may hit confidence hard and a volatile economy will see more cautious expenditure. Excise rates vary substantially from state to state even before the pandemic, which exacerbated the difference when states imposed cess payments to make up fiscal shortfalls.

A number of observers mention a shift to modern retail. This is consistent with state governments looking to secure the revenues they can expect from beverage alcohol and also with consumer expectations around improving retail venues.

Trade – Difficulties with the supply of stock have been widespread. It is reported that lack of supply inhibited sales, especially of premium products. The pandemic hindered logistics and rendered delivery more expensive. Brand-owner allocations have also reduced the agility to respond to demand.

A further element is that the phenomenon of medium liquor in Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh offers more settled revenue for states and gives consumers an alternative to IMFL. One leading country liquor supplier reports now selling twice as much medium liquor as it does country liquor per month. India is unusual in that spirits demand is significantly more developed than demand for beer. While there is some interplay between the two with bang-for-buck consumers keen to maximise alcohol content per rupee delivery, there were some signs that demand for beer was beginning to develop separately.

However, strong beers of 8.5% ABV still represent more than 82% of demand. The first lockdown also affected trade, and was both severe and ill-timed – six weeks without sales, just before peak season for beer and RTDs. The on-trade revived in the second half of 2020 with near full re-opening in some states, but night and weekend curfews, combined with 50% capacity limits, continue to constrain this channel. The uncertainty of lockdown and the unavailability of liquor drove some consumers back down to country liquor, although not in the south where it is banned in five large states.

There was more limited up-trading by wealthier consumers. However, mainstream products, brands and players have been affected with some of the less financially secure domestic players closing for some months. In some of the larger states, competition in the beverage alcohol category is relatively open. In more there are state corporations set up as wholesalers and frequently as retailers too. In all states, beverage alcohol participants must navigate a web of licences, quotas and taxes, and sometimes incentives.

In certain key states, the regulatory authorities that control pricing have rationalised their price lists. In Delhi, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Haryana the correction has been downwards for higher-priced imports.

It is reported that there is shift to modern retail. This is consistent with state governments looking to secure revenues from beverage alcohol and also with consumer expectations around improving retail venues.

Political – Breweries have been investigated by the Competition Commission of India (CCI) which has now resulted in fines for collusion and operating a cartel. The reputational impact is more serious than the financial cost.

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.

Himachal Pradesh new liquor policy aims to boost revenues, while curbing illicit trade

The Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur, under whose chairmanship, the Cabinet met announced that the government intended to collect Rs. 2,131 crore revenue from state excise. This would be a jump of nearly Rs. 264 crore and a 14% jump in excise revenues over the previous financial year.

The policy includes renewal of retail excise vends for the financial year 2022-23 at the renewal fees of 4% of the value of unit/vend. The objective is to gain adequate enhancement in government revenue and curb the smuggling of country liquor from the neighbouring states by a reduction in its price.

Annually, Himachal Pradesh earns Rs. 1,800 to 1,900 crore from excise, which includes the sale and consumption of foreign liquor brands and country liquor sold in open markets, vends, bars and restaurants. Excise is one of the biggest source after the sale of power, mining (minerals) and tourism in the hill state.

Country Liquor prices reduced

The brands of Country Liquor will be cheaper as license fees has been reduced. This will help in providing good quality liquor at a cheaper rate to the consumers and they won’t be tempted towards purchase of illicit liquor and evasion of duty will also be checked.  In new excise policy, the 15% fixed quota of country liquor for manufacturers and bottlers to be supplied to the retail licensees has been abolished. This step will give the retail licensees to lift their quota from the suppliers of their choice and further assure supply of good quality country liquor at competitive prices. The MRP of country liquor will be cheaper by 16% of existing price.

The fixed annual license fee of bars has been rationalised by abolishing the area specific slabs of license fee. Now throughout the State there will be uniform license slabs based upon the room capacity in hotels.

Fixed license fee of bars in tribal areas reduced   

As Himachal Pradesh is known for its tourism, the government intends to provide better facility to the tourists visiting tribal areas and also provide relief to the hotel entrepreneurs, the rates of annual fixed license fee of bars in the tribal areas.

To keep a check on illicit trade and to monitor the manufacturing, operations of liquor, its dispatch to wholesalers and subsequent sale to retailers, it has been made mandatory for all the above stakeholders to install CCTV cameras at their establishments. The government also has imposed stringent penalties to ensure that irregularities detected by the department in liquor bottling plants, wholesale vends and retail vends are curbed. An effective end to end online Excise Administration System shall be setup in the State which shall include the facility of track and trace of liquor bottles besides other modules for real time monitoring.

As per the policy the Renewal fee (non-refundable) for each vend/unit shall be paid @ 4% of the value of vend/unit (MVV) for 2022-23 while filing application for renewal. b) Renewal Fee of Country Fermented Liquor (Lugdi/Jhol) Vends Sr. No. Value of vend Renewal Fee (i) Upto Rs. 1.00 Lakh Rs. 20,000 (ii) Above Rs. 1.00 Lakh upto Rs. 10 Lakh Rs. 25,000 (iii) Above Rs. 10.00 Lakh Rs. 30,000.

The policy said that the Zonal Collectors/District Incharges shall not be allowed to proceed with the conditional renewal of any vends/units. Sub-vends shall be granted to a retail licensee within the State subject to payment of annual license fee of Rs. 8,00,000 or 10% of the vend value whichever is lower subject to the minimum of Rs. 4,00,000. Whereas, keeping in view the issue of smuggling of liquor into the State, the sub-vends shall be granted within a distance of 100 meter from the State border on the payment of annual license fee of Rs. 3,00,000. The sub-vends shall be approved and
granted by the Collector of the Zone concerned.

Fixed License Fee

The fixed license fee on annual basis (including renewal fee) for various Licenses of Foreign Liquor, Country Liquor and Beer per license for the year 2022-23 have been changed.

Type of license Fixed license fee per annum

L-1 (Wholesale vend of IMFS/Foreign liquor/Beer/Wine)Minimum license fee of ₹20,00,000/- for lifting upto 3.00 lakh proof litres. Beyond 3.00 lakh proof litres an additional ₹3.00 per proof litre
L-1A (Storage of Foreign Liquor in Bond)₹2,00,000/- excluding such other fee as may be prescribed
L-1B (i) Wholesale vend of Foreign Liquor to L-1 vend only₹4.25 per P. L. on Foreign Spirit and ₹1.50 per B.L. of RTD Beverages subject to minimum of ₹4,00,000/-
Exclusively for Beer₹1.50 per B.L. subject to minimum of ₹4,00,000/-.
L-1BB (wholesale vend of imported foreign liquor) from outside India to L-1 & L-2 as well as to the Club and Bar license holders.Annual fixed license fee ₹5,50,000/-
L-1BIO (License for space holder in Custom Bonded Warehouse for wholesale of imported BIO brands to L1BB)Annual fixed license fee ₹10,50,000/-
L-1C (Wholesale vend of foreign liquor by distiller or bottler only).₹6,00,000/-
L-1E for export of IMFS for non-manufacturer wholesale licensee for interState sale₹3.00 per proof litre subject to minimum of Rs. 10.75 lakh per annum.

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

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

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

Premium brands to the fore

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

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

Strategic moves with accelerated investments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Struggle with Counterfeiting in Spirits Industry: Coming out of Covid Crisis

Spokesperson: Mr. Ankit Gupta, Gov Body Member, ASPA (Authentication Solution Providers’ Association)

What has been the counterfeiting scenario in the spirits industry during the Covid crisis?

During the Covid crisis, alcohol in India has emerged as the sector with the largest number of counterfeiting incidents. This includes adulteration, trademark infringement, fake liquor, fraud, and other ways to copy products. According to ASPA counterfeit news repository study, alcohol continues to be in the top five sectors in 2018, 2019 and 2020 facing these risks. The same trend continued through 2021. Alone in Uttar Pradesh officials had seized approximately 12.57 lakh litre illicit liquor till November 2021 (Source: Aabkari Times, December 2021).

Despite being one of the most regulated sectors, in normal circumstances also alcohol industry is one of the biggest victims of counterfeiting and illicit trade. During the pandemic the industry was hit badly as sales through restaurants, hotels, etc. was adversely affected. Drinking at home became more acceptable and picked up but was still not enough to substitute the lost revenues. While the industry was struggling with low demand, criminals exploited the demand-supply gap to sell more quantities of counterfeit liquor, creating an even bigger threat to human well-being.

Why is the alcohol industry one of the top targets for counterfeiters and illicit trade?

Criminals are attracted to the alcohol industry because of various reasons e.g. high profitability, evasion of taxes, low consumer awareness, lack of universal pricing in India as well as high demand. In addition to this, the easy availability of raw material Methyl Alcohol, which is widely used for industrial purposes is another reason.

The margins for criminals are considerably huge and despite regulations, the task of counterfeiting and illicit trade is not being made challenging enough for them. During lockdowns, restricted access to and availability of good quality liquor gave a bigger push to the sale and purchase of counterfeit or illicit liquor. In some cases, it was observed that people saw the acquisition of liquor in difficult times at higher rates as social status or public image booster.

The danger has increased as criminals are using more reckless methods of producing and smuggling alcohol. For instance, many incidents of liquor being produced from sanitizers or ethyl alcohol or spirits from petrol and diesel mixed with colour being sold in copycat or discarded packaging surfaced across the country. These products are hazardous.

How can counterfeiting be controlled effectively post-pandemic?

Development of a solution always starts with recognising the problem and assessing its magnitude. Counterfeiting has been underestimated and this has prevented the development of a robust strategy and solution to curtail it. The fight against counterfeiting and illicit trade needs to be fought from three fronts – policy, brand, and consumer. A policy framework that guides support and nurtures an ecosystem which strong against counterfeiters. It should protect businesses and consumers against counterfeiting malice while enabling effective law enforcement and effective punishment to those who commit the crime.

Being an integral part of the system, brands should take solid steps to protect their products by building an adequate defence of anti-counterfeiting solutions and traceability infrastructure. For instance, multi-layered protection through packaging by implementing anti-counterfeiting solutions which make it almost impossible to copy – one-time break seals and sleeves. Supported by smart solutions such as tax stamps, digitally readable labels, QR Codes, etc. Made more effective by awareness which educates consumers about how they can safeguard themselves from counterfeit products.

Consumers can play an important role in the fight against fakes, they are their first line of defence. A little bit of carefulness and attentiveness on their part while buying liquor can save them from getting cheated.

Can the online sale of alcohol be a welcomed trend? Can it help in curbing the sale of counterfeit liquor in the country?

The pandemic crisis has encouraged discussions about the online sale of liquor in many states. According to a survey by YouGov National survey findings, almost 60% of consumers are eager to purchase alcohol online. Safety and convenience have been cited as key reasons to prefer the e-commerce channel to buy alcoholic beverages. While the online channel offers consumers more choice leading to innovation within the category and incremental revenue opportunities for state governments, we need comprehensive regulations and safeguards for selling liquor online and need to tread with a lot of caution. The process and compliance regulations for alcohol delivery will vary from the delivery of groceries or essentials. Moreover, the possibility of alcohol being seized during transit and the adulteration of alcohol by criminals cannot be ruled out either. The authentication industry can offer technology-enabled packaging and anti-counterfeiting solutions that can plug these risks and challenges. The digital footprint cn help in traceability and if done with proper provisions it can ease the process of identifying and catching frauds.

The Macallan unveils The Reach Single Malt Whisky

The Macallan has unveiled The Reach, an incomparable single malt whisky that reflects an extraordinary moment in time and exemplifies the enduring spirit that has been at the heart of the brand for almost 200 years.

Crafted during the Second World War in a period of increasing hardship, The Reach was laid to rest in 1940 before The Macallan was compelled to close its doors for the first time in its history.

Its very existence is testament to the care and commitment to uncompromised excellence that has driven The Macallan since it was founded in 1824. It also pays tribute to those who strived amid great adversity to resume distilling The Macallan’s spirit, as well as the crafts people today who continue to uphold the brand’s values.

A rare single malt at 81 Years Old, The Reach is the oldest whisky ever released by The Macallan, crafted from a single, sherry seasoned oak cask. The dark, precious whisky is encased in an exquisite decanter created from mouth-blown, hot glass, cradled on a bronze sculpture of three hands.

Each hand represents characters in The Macallan’s history and their unique story. One commemorates the Distillery workers of 1940 who crafted the spirit into existence, in challenging times, over eight decades ago. Another is the hand of one-time chairman, Allan Shiach, whose grandfather headed the company when this remarkable spirit was first consigned to its cask. The third is that of today’s Master Whisky Maker, Kirsteen Campbell, who carefully selected the 1940 cask used to create The Reach, deciding that now was the time to share this precious whisky with the world.

Kirsteen Campbell, Master Whisky Maker, The Macallan, said, “It is an honour to introduce The Reach. Created during a turbulent time in the world, this extraordinary expression showcases The Macallan’s history, ingenuity and unmistakable strength of character.

“The creation of many hands, The Reach has been a truly collaborative effort. It’s also a tribute to the people who made this precious whisky, and their enduring spirit which never wavered.

“Its deep auburn hue is the first hint of this remarkable whisky’s astonishing depth. Offering notes of dark chocolate, sweet cinnamon and aromatic peat, leading on to treacle toffee, crystalised ginger and charred pineapple, before giving way to an intensely rich, sweet and smoky finish.”

Reflecting its rarity and significance, The Reach is presented in unique packaging brought together by a collective of Scottish artisans. A tale of collaboration and connectivity, the result is a handcrafted quartet of liquid, glass, bronze and wood that is a fitting tribute to this very special whisky.

Sculptor Saskia Robinson created the timeless sculpture featuring three hands, producing countless drawings from every perspective before working in a physical medium. The veins, nails and skin detail are recorded in extraordinary accuracy, modelled on an artist’s impression of a hand of one of those original still men. The sculpture is cast in bronze and the glimmer of the metal contrasts beautifully with the amber whisky.

The surface of the glass decanter features subtle indentations that match the fingerprints of the bronze hands which support it, while a beautiful cabinet crafted using wood from an alien elm tree, which is thought to have been on The Macallan Estate in 1940, houses the decanter.

A film has been created by renowned London-based photographer Nadav Kander working closely with his art director, Matt Willey, who was previously the art director at The New York Times Magazine. Featuring original music composed and recorded by Scottish band Mogwai, recently shortlisted for the prestigious Mercury Prize, it tells the story of The Macallan’s legacy and the collaborative process behind The Reach.

Highly limited to only 288 decanters worldwide, The Reach will be on display at The Macallan Estate Boutique from 9th February 2022 and later in The Macallan domestic and travel retail Boutiques. The RSP is $125,000/£92,000/€110,000.

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.