InBev has finally made its move into the Indian beer market.

The global brewer announced yesterday (16 May) that it has entered into a "long-term joint venture agreement" with the RKJ Group in the country. The announcement signals InBev's first foray in India, with RKJ being InBev's exclusive vehicle to invest in the country.

InBev said it will take an initial 49% stake in the venture with the option to increase its participation at a later date. Specific terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

"While the business will not have a material impact on InBev's global business in the short to medium term, InBev is confident that the combination of its expertise in beer with the financial and operational discipline of the RKJ group will allow the company to deliver its business plan in the country and build a meaningful presence over time," the brewer said.

When contacted by just-drinks, a spokesperson for InBev said: "This is a small initial step we're taking, but we believe it has great potential in what will be an important beer market over time."

The spokesperson noted that InBev will introduce "global and/or international brands" into India early next year.

"This is the first step of a phased approach in the country," the spokesperson added.

Headed by RK Jaipuria, RKJ is the leading supplier of carbonated and non-carbonated soft drinks under Pepsi in India.

Late last year, local reports suggested that InBev was on the edge of seeing discussions with RKJ's Varun Beverages collapse. InBev would not comment at the time.

India's beer market is growing at around 7% a year, buoyed by a wealthier middle class. However, consumption in the country lags behind emerging markets like China due to the country's stiff regulation on the advertising and distribution of beer, as well as high taxes placed on the category compared to locally-produced spirits.