Blog: Olly WehringIndSpirit – Day Two. “I blame the Government.”

Olly Wehring | 15 November 2008

It's day two of the IndSpirit conference here in Mumbai, and the spotlight has switched from spirits to beer and wine.

The majority of us appear pretty clear-headed this morning following last night's event – an awards ceremony in the grounds of our hotel, at which yours truly was requested to hand out some awards. As well as the presentation ceremony for the winners of an online vote in the run-up to IndSpirit, we had Bollywood-style dancing, a huge buffet-style dinner and bars run by the likes of Diageo, Pernod Ricard and InBev.

But, to work.

This morning, I gave my presentation on the global beer market, a round-up from which will appear on just-drinks later this week.

During the morning's look at beer, I learnt that the per capita consumption of beer in India stands at a paltry one litre, which still towers over wine consumption, which we heard this afternoon has hit 10ml per capita.

Both the beer and wine industries echoed the sentiments from yesterday's spirits presentations, with all three sectors calling – nay, screaming – for some sort of uniformity from the authorities in India's 28 states. Present at all three sessions were two state excise commissioners. Credit to them for turning up, never mind taking questions, but I'm in total agreement with Gavin Hewitt, the chief executive of the SWA, who yesterday described the regulatory climate for alcoholic drinks in India as being “Byzantine”.

It's a mess and, although there was lots of talk, this frustration looks like being with us for quite some time. Those low per capita consumptions may be on the rise, but nowhere near as fast as they should be.

As is usually the case, you can blame the authorities, in part, for that.


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