The cumulative sale of Indian made foreign liquor (IMFL) in Kerala during the April-February period of the current financial year edged up 8 per cent to 17 million cases, as against 15.7 million cases during the same period last year.
According to data compiled by the IMFL manufacturing industry, the average monthly sale in Kerala, the highest liquor consuming state in India, was 1.5 million cases during the April–February period of 2009-10. Rum topped the list with around 53 per cent of the total sales (average monthly sale is 820,000 cases), for which also Kerala tops the list.
N Thiagarajan, chief executive officer and director of Southern Agrifurane Industries Private Limited, which produces MGM brand IMFL, told Business Standard that the peculiarity of consumption of liquor in Kerala was the advent of rum in the consumption pattern of the middle class.
“Second to Kerala, Bengal consumes rum in large quantities. South India mostly prefers whisky and brandy, while in north Indian states except the northeast, whisky is the hot cake,” he added.
In Tamil Nadu, 63 per cent of the consumption is brandy while in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka almost 75 per cent is whisky. About 30 per cent of the total consumption in West Bengal and Orissa is rum.
According to industry data, consumption of rum is growing at an average rate of 7 per cent annually in Kerala, and southern districts of the state mostly prefers rum.
Sales in the brandy segment is around 40 per cent with an average monthly sale of 600,000 cases.
The growth in this segment is also 7 per cent and sales are higher in the central and northern parts of the state.
Incidentally, Chalakkudy, a town near Thrissur, is the highest IMFL consuming area in Kerala where the average daily sales in the Beverage Corporation outlet is Rs 5 -7 lakh.
During festival seasons like Onam and Christmas, this will go beyond Rs 15 lakh.
Thiagarajan said the sale of vodka was also increasing in Kerala with the introduction of flavoured vodka. The sale had increased from 1.86 per cent of the total sale in 2008-09 to 3.13 per cent till February this year. Sales had increased to 50,000 cases from 26,000 cases in 2008-09.
The per capita liquor consumption is the highest in Kerala, according to the latest industry data. The per capita consumption of Keralites is 8.4 litres a year, which is the highest in the country. The national per capita consumption is only 0.75 litres.
The annual sales turnover of the Kerala State Beverages Corporation, which is the major retail seller of IMFL, has crossed Rs 7,000 crore.
According to rough estimates, Kerala’s liquor consumption including sales through various outlets and bars costs around Rs 15,000 crore a year. Incidentally Kerala is one of the highly tax paying state for IMFL in India with the sales tax being 120 per cent. The state’s exchequer mainly depend on the sale of IMFL and the tax revenue from liquor sale is more than Rs 5,000 crore.
Industry sources said the increase in the per capita disposable income, lifestyle changes, highly-paid IT and BPO sectors and media exposure were the main villains in the alarming increase in liquor consumption in the state. The taboo in consuming liquor is gradually disappearing and lately, increase in women drinking pattern is also witnessed in major cities of the state, they added.