The beer category in Australia - Market & brand data

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Earlier today, Anheuser-Busch InBev announced its intention to offload all of the group's operations in Australia to Asahi. Here, with the help of figures from GlobalData, just-drinks looks at the Australian beer market and its growth prospects relative to Asia.

Last year, lager volumes in Australia totalled 14.8m hectolitres. The market has been in steady decline, dipping below 16m hectolitres in 2012 before dropping under 15m in 2017. In value terms, the country's lager category brought in US$12bn in 2018, down from a ten-year high in 2012 of just over $15bn.

Beer in Australia - Volume & Value Trends 2014-2018

Source: Company results

Among the multinational brewers, A-B InBev is the runaway lager market leader, with volumes far outstripping the other five largest, combined. The brewing giant inherited the leadership position through the purchase of SABMiller three years ago. SAB had led the way after buying Foster's Group's Carlton & United Breweries division for US$12.6bn in 2011. Second-placed Kirin owns Lion, formerly Lion Nathan, which controls Castlemaine XXXX. Heineken, Molson Coors and Carlsberg barely register in Australia.

Brewers in Australia - 2018 volumes

Source: GlobalData

Turning to lager brands, and A-B InBev's Carlton boasted the highest volumes last year. Kirin's Castlemaine XXXX and A-B InBev's Victoria Bitter - actually a lager - both breaking 2m hectolitres. Asahi's imported lager brands - Peroni, Grolsch and its namesake brew - will likely be the Japanese group's target brands for premiumisation efforts going forward, with Carlton and Victoria being used as ballast.

Beer brands in Australia - 2018 volumes

Source: GlobalData

As for A-B InBev, the group will focus its efforts on Asia, where growth is more readily available. Lager volumes in the region, where cheaper local brewers have dominated in the past five years, have remained relatively static. The prospects for higher-end imported beers, however, are much more exciting, as evidenced by last year's value jump - Asia saw beer sales in 2018 rise by 7.8% on the corresponding period last year, thanks in no small part to A-B InBev's premium success in countries such as China. As we've suggested before, keep an eye on the Philippines and Vietnam; markets that could offer rich pickings for the likes of Budweiser and Stella Artois.

Beer in Asia - Volume & Value Trends 2014-2018


Source: Company results

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