Exactly how tough going is Russias beer market?

Exactly how tough going is Russia's beer market?

Is Heineken being a bit too tough on itself?

In what several analysts have described as a downbeat conference call yesterday – and, considering the Q3 trading update earlier in the day warned of a drop in FY profits, the glum tone was understandable – CFO Rene Hooft Graafland described the beer market in Russia thus:

“Very, very difficult.”

He then proceeded to say that he expects that the market will be down by 10% over the whole of 2013.

Now, the brewers operating in Russia have certainly had a tough time of late, as advertising restrictions, a clampdown on temporary retail outlets and rising taxes have made the road a bumpy one.

But, down by 10%? 

Earlier this year, market leader Carlsberg issued guidance that Russia will come in down this year, but only by mid-single digits.

And, following its most recent set of results, Anadolu Efes forecast a mid single-digit market fall this year.

Is Heineken's Russian glass half-empty?

We'll know for sure when Carlsberg delivers its latest results on 13 November.