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UBL forays into craft beer segment, launches Kingfisher Ultra Witbier

With favourable demographics, India remains one of the most promising markets globally

Debasis Mohapatra 

United Breweries, beer

United Breweries (UBL) has forayed into the specialty segment with the launch of its craft brand Ultra Witbier. The non-lager beer, with less than 5 per cent of alcohol by volume, is now available in Karnataka and Goa, and will soon be sold in Maharashtra, Delhi and Haryana. "Though the market size for craft is small as compared to regular beer, this is one of the fast-moving segments. With this launch, UBL now has expanded its portfolio," said Debabrata Mukherjee, CMO at UBL. The launch of Ultra Witbier, the firm’s first offering in specialty beer segment, widens its portfolio under 'Ultra' brand. According to market estimates, craft beer as a segment constitutes less than 10 per cent of total beer market in India, which is pegged at more than 5 billion litres. About 85 per cent of the overall market, is predominantly dominated by strong beer. However, the trend of craft beer is catching up as 170 micro breweries have come up in the last one decade. Apart from Heineken-owned UBL, Anheuser-Busch InBev, and Carlsberg are other two brewers, holding more than 90 per cent of Indian beer market.

With favourable demographics, India remains one of the most promising markets globally. As more people opt for premium brands, specialty beer is likely to be more in demand in coming quarters, experts said.

"With our marketing reach, we want to touch all our sales geographies and target every segment of our client base with the new craft beer. Currently, the craft beer is brewed in our Karnataka facility, which has enough manufacturing capacity to meet the demand," said Mukherjee. Priced at Rs 110 for 330 ml, this fits into mid-affordable segment, he added.

On growth rates seen in overall beer consumption space, UBL said the industry was facing short-term headwinds, which would be subsided soon.

"Impulse product category (like beer) is not affected much by any slowdown in consumption. While elections and extended monsoon affected consumption demand in first and second quarters, we expect things to improve in the coming quarters," Mukherjee said.

In the second quarter ended September, UBL had reported a 30 per cent decline in consolidated net profit at Rs 114.78 crore. Revenues from operations rose 7.6 per cent at Rs 3,590.5 crore during this period.

First Published: Wed, December 04 2019. 21:46 IST
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