SABMiller is looking to invest heavily in India in the coming years. Speaking to Reuters yesterday (9 November), the managing director of SABMiller in Africa and Asia, Andre Parker, said that the brewer will spend up to US$125m in the country over the next five years.

"The beer market here's growing regularly at double digits every year, and is one of the few markets in the world where it is growing like that," Parker told Reuters. "I won't be surprised if we spend more."

SABMiller entered India in 2000, when it bought Narang Breweries in Uttar Pradesh state. It then bought a brewery in Karnataka in the south, one in Maharastra in the west, and is majority owner of one in Rajasthan in the north, Reuters noted. Earlier this year, SABMiller bought out Jumbo Group's Shaw Wallace Breweries, with which it previously had a joint venture, taking its annual capacity to 2.6m hectolitres.

"Now that we're completely in control of our destiny, we are able to invest more freely," Parker told the press agency. "We've established a reasonable footprint covering the major beer-consuming states, and the next phase is one of growth of volumes and profits."

Parker went on to tell Reuters that high taxation and heavy regulation provides international brewers with added challenges in the country. "The industry is too controlled, too restrictive and too heavily taxed, making beer a premium product, but I wouldn't be surprised if more foreign players came in," he said. "But the major part of most beer markets is local brand-owned, and that would be true of India, as well, although there is a niche for international brands."