InBev and PepsiAmericas have announced a partnership to sell and distribute Beck's beer in Poland.

In teaming up to bring Beck's to Poland, InBev and PepsiAmericas have formed an alliance that will benefit from the combined strengths of the Beck's brand and PepsiAmericas' distribution power. Furthermore, the move should safely position InBev to make its overdue entry into the emerging Polish market.

Through the partnership, Beck's will be available in Poland from 4 July. InBev, the world's largest beer brewer by volume, has three major international brands in its portfolio: Beck's, Stella Artois and Brahma. PepsiAmericas, meanwhile claims to serve more than 40,000 retail accounts in Poland, with a sales and distribution network that the company believes is one of the strongest in the country.

Four key qualities distinguish Poland as an attractive market for beer manufacturers: its beer market is growing; Polish consumers are showing an increasing affinity for premium beers; the country expects an economic boost from its May 2004 EU accession; and it has a growing population.

The Polish beer market is expected to see a 3.3% five-year average annual growth rate through to 2009, making it the third fastest growing in Europe after Russia and Spain. This compares favourably to the overall European growth rate for this five-year period of just 1.5%. As such, InBev competitors SABMiller, Heineken and Carlsberg have already been pursuing Poland, recognising it as a hotspot for beer market penetration. So far, InBev has fallen behind in this trend, maintaining only a small presence in the country with its German beer Franziskaner.

Polish consumers' beer choices reflect the trading-up trend seen in western beer markets of late. In many western markets, young adult consumers (those from the legal drinking age up to 24 years) are increasingly trading up to higher quality premium beers as a way to exude connoisseurship. In Poland a similar pattern is set to emerge, and Beck's will benefit from the 2.5% CAGR expected through 2009 in the country's premium lager category.

Overnight stock gains for InBev reflected investors' positive reaction to the PepsiAmericas partnership. InBev has shown that is finally ready to compete in Poland, and all without investment in a costly acquisition or localised brewery. Furthermore, if the Beck's launch is successful, InBev would also be well positioned to benefit from expected growth in the Polish specialty beer market, given its Hoegaarden and Leffe brands.

To find out more about research on beer in Poland, click here.