November 17, 2008
just-drinks.com editor's weekly highlights
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We've had an Indian slant on just-drinks these past few days. First up, we've been in Mumbai for the past four days, attending the IndSpirit alcobev conference. The two-day event covered the spirits category on Friday, with beer and wine getting its share of the limelight on Saturday.
My presentation on the global beer market aside, the highlight of this trip has been the ability to see first-hand this fascinating, yet complex, market. The numbers speak for themselves – a population of 1.1bn, which is set to overtake China's in the next ten years, with a per capita consumption of beer of only one litre, while wine 'boasts' a paltry 10ml per capita.
Religious beliefs prevent a large proportion of India's population from consuming alcohol, but, even taking this into account, the drinking population is still estimated to be at least 500m.
And yet, while the numbers show the potential of India, the duty tariffs situation offers a major hurdle to clear before any of this potential can be realised. With each of the 28 states controlling the duties on alcohol, it is of little surprise that the global players have for years been calling for a level of consistency across the country – a call echoed at the conference by the president of India's own United Spirits.
Until any such uniformity comes into play, the multinationals are biding their time, manoeuvring their operations to capitalise on this, should that day ever come. Witness the announcement last week that Diageo is in “exclusive” talks with United Spirits' parent company, The UB Group.
While a bunk-up between Diageo and UB would give the UK-based company access to the best distribution network in the country, the announcement surely signals concern for Radico Khaitan, whose Indian joint-venture with Diageo is only two years – and one brand – old. The chief operating officer of Radico Khaitan told me on Saturday, however, that he feels the future remains bright for the j-v.
Optimism abounds in India – from everyone.
Staying with India, click here for part one of a special two-part interview with the chairman of UB, Vijay Mallya, which ran on Thursday. Part two hits your screens tomorrow.
Until next time...
Olly Wehring, Managing Editor
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