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CASTLE MALTING NEWS in partnership with Chinese
02 September, 2022

Brewing news India: AB InBev expands Hoegaarden beer range

Anheuser-Busch InBev, the company behind beers such as Budweiser, Corona Extra and Seven Rivers, is launching variants of its Belgian wheat beer brand Hoegaarden in India. The variants, the company said, will target both beer and white spirits drinkers in the country and is expected to fetch 15% incremental volume for its Hoegaarden franchise in India, the Mint reported on September 2.

Capitalising on the growing consumer trend for flavours and styles in the wheat beer category, AB InBev is launching two variants - Rosée and Nectarine (raspberry and peach flavours respectively). To begin with, these will be available in Bengaluru, Mumbai, Pune, and Thane.

Ab InBev plans to launch them in markets like Delhi, Gurgaon, Chandigarh in the coming days, said the company’s vice president, marketing & new business development, Vineet Sharma.

The company had begun local manufacturing of the Hoegaarden range in 2020, said Sharma, adding that its sales volume have surpassed 2021 numbers. He said one of the biggest barriers to entry in the beer trade in India is the taste and with the latest launch, they may be able to attract more women consumers and overall white spirit consumers.

“Indian consumers have become very experimentative and they have tried some of these products in the international market. We have tweaked these products to suit the Indian palate and not just done a ‘lift and shift’ model."

The company has reduced the amount of sugar in its beer variants to better suit the Indian market. Following this, by the middle of 2023, it expects to launch more variants under the same brand. India is primarily a lager drinking nation.

"While wheat is not a big one, it is one the fastest growing segments and that’s why we are focusing on wheat as a category. With Hoegaarden, we have tasted success and have also created new brands like Seven Rivers beer here," he added. The idea is to catch potential customers who drink any sort of flavoured alcoholic drinks, Sharma said.

Meanwhile, other beer brands have also experimented with fruit variants. Companies like White Owl have launched variants like Spark which has a lemon base while the Goa Brewing Company has launched a Pineapple Saison beer.

According to IWSR Drinks Market Analysis, the potential for beer growth in India is strong and it anticipates consumption in India to return to pre-covid-19 levels by the end of 2023.

In January 2021, Kirin Holdings announced an investment of $30 million in Delhi-based B9 Beverages, the maker of the Indian craft beer Bira.

According to consulting firm Blueweave, India’s beer market stood at $4.34 billion in 2020. The market is expected to reach $9.36 billion by 2027 and is projected to grow at a CAGR of 12.0% during this period.

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