SABMiller India

SABMiller plans to take Indus Pride beer overseas

Hindu Business Line, 28-March-2009
One of the world’s largest beer companies, SABMiller plans to take its new mild beer, Indus Pride overseas, while there is a possibility of making its global marquee brand, Miller beer in India itself.

“We could take Indus Pride beer overseas once we consolidate the brand in the country,” SABMiller Director-Corporate Communications and Affairs, Mr Sundeep Kumar, told Business Line. This is the first time, SABMiller has created a brand for the Indian market, while its other brands have either been acquired or imported.

SABMiller is being extremely cautious about the launch of Indus Pride. Instead of going for a national roll out, it is launching the brand from State to State. It first launched Indus Pride in Rajasthan during the second half of 2008 and has now followed it up with a launch in Karnataka. It is unlikely that the new beer brand will be launched in States where its Royal Challenge beer has a good market share. These States include, Andhra Pradesh, where Royal Challenge is a clear leader in the mild beer segment and others such as Orissa and Uttar Pradesh.

According to Mr Sundeep Kumar, there is a possibility of launching Miller brand at some point in time but the company does not want to import the brand because it will attract huge duties. Hence, it may decide to make Miller in India itself though it will require huge investments in the breweries. If launched, Miller will compete with beer brands such as Budweiser.

Indus Pride is considered the only fully malt-based beer made in the country. Most other beer brands have only up to 85 per cent of malt content. Fully malt-based beer has a longer brewing cycle giving an overall smooth taste. All malt-based beer have a 18-day brewing cycle compared with a 11-day cycle for other types of beer.

Market share
The total size of the domestic beer market is between 160 million cases and 170 million cases. United Breweries, according to its own estimate, has a market share close to 50 per cent, while SABMiller expects to close the fiscal year with a share of 37 per cent, about 1 per cent more than the last fiscal.

Mr Sundeep Kumar said the market share would have been higher but for a stand off with the Government in Andhra Pradesh leading to depressed sales in that State, which is also the company’s largest market.