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Global liquor companies keen to lift Indians’ spirits further, Retail News, ET Retail


Global liquor companies keen to lift Indians' spirits furtherFrom flavoured beer and non-alcoholic beverages to Indian single malts, global liquor companies including Diageo, Bacardi and AB InBev (ABI) are either creating Indianised products to enter new categories or accelerating their global brand launches in India, indicating a renewed aggression after a two-year hiatus due to Covid-19-induced restrictions.

Diageo is launching Godawan, a single malt made in Rajasthan, Johnnie Walker mixer and Black & White ginger ale in India.

“Indian single malts are already 50% of global bottle-in-origin single malts in India and are growing faster. It also allows us to participate in a fast-growing top-end segment. We are really doubling down on innovation at the top end of our portfolio and are outgrowing our mainstream portfolio by almost seven times,” said Deepika Warrier, chief marketing officer at Diageo-owned USL.

While the company launched United’s Epitome Reserve last year, this will be its first permanent single malt in India.

“This brand allows us to address opportunities in premiumisation, meaningful innovation, as well as sustainability; and most importantly, there’s a consumer who’s just waiting for experiential products,” Warrier added.

Global liquor companies keen to lift Indians' spirits further

In 2020, spirits declined 20% while the beer market shrunk 40%, but both the segments grew 28% last calendar year, helped by a low base, according to the latest data from Global-Data, a UK-based research agency. With the market recovering sharply in the second half of the year and many even bettered their pre-Covid volumes in the last quarter, companies are optimistic.

“Given the ground realities and maintaining everyone’s safety at the forefront, we postponed some key launches, but none were cancelled. 2022 looks positive and we have a solid and robust innovation pipeline,” said Sanjit Randhawa, managing director at Bacardi India that entered the brandy segment with Indian made foreign liquor brand Good Man brandy. “Innovation will continue to be a core pillar for us; and we have greater plans to strengthen our portfolio; now that the situation is looking positive.”

Beer, which has been one of the worst-hit categories during Covid-19 as two summer seasons were lost to the pandemic, will also see revenge consumption that will propel the battered industry back to glory, according to analysts.

ABI, the maker of Budweiser, said many innovations that were kept on the back burner are now being readied for launch.

“With the third wave receding quicker than anticipated, we are optimistic about the peak season this year taking us back to pre-Covid levels. We are entering newer consumer needs with propositions that are fresh and differentiated in the non-alcoholic beverages space too. Overall, we expect 2022 to be a pivotal year of transformation for the alcobev and non-alcobev beverage industry,” said Kartikeya Sharma, president, India & South East Asia, AB InBev.

The period between March and July accounts for 40-45% of annual beer sales but saw heavy restrictions in the past two years.

“After two years of a beer drought due to lockdowns in the summer months, the industry is finally ready for action, not just in terms of bottled product launches but also beer-on-tap as the timing coincides with a strong revival in out of home consumption ,” said Rahul Singh, co-founder of Beer Cafe, which operates over 31 cafes and bars across India.





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