Coopers enters Indian beer market

Coopers is now available in the Indian beer market, following the South Australian brewery securing a new distributor.

Austrade introduced Coopers to VBev, which is one of India’s largest importers and distributors of wine, spirits and beer. Coopers had previously made a limited foray into India in 2008, focusing on the hotel channel.

“Coopers is the only Australian craft beer in the Indian market,” said John Southwell, Trade and Investment Commissioner, Austrade India.

“VBev’s nationwide network means Coopers’ craft beers will become more widely available to Indian consumers.

“There are not many imported craft beers as many international beer brands have set up their own breweries in India. We expect Coopers beers to do well in India, especially in states where there is less tax on beer.”

Beer accounts for a third of the Indian alcoholic beverages market, in volume terms. Euromonitor projects the total volume of beer will increase at a 6% CAGR to reach 2.9 billion litres in 2025.

India is home to around 440 million millennials. This demographic is driving an increase in craft beer sales as they seek fresh flavours including from India’s growing list of microbreweries, particularly in urban areas. This has contributed to continued growth of India’s craft beer industry.

Popping the cork on India’s wine market

Australian wines are also finding their way onto drink orders at Indian bars, restaurants and social gatherings.

Despite having the world’s third largest alcoholic beverage market, wine is a relatively new category in India. Over the past two decades India’s palate for wine has begun to grow. Changing demographics and attitudes toward alcohol has led to an increase in wine consumption.

As of 29 December 2022, tariffs on premium Australian wine exports to India are substantially reduced under the Australia-India Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (AI-ECTA).

Spotting opportunity, Australian exporters are working to cut a slice of the Indian wine market that is projected to grow by 8% per annum to 2024.

In 2021, Australia was India’s largest source of wine imports, with Australian exports increasing by 81% on the previous year.

Between September 2021 and September 2022, Australian wine producers exported 3.6 million litres of wine to India at a total value of $16.2 million. The market is dominated by still reds followed by still whites with shiraz blends, chardonnay and shiraz most popular, respectively.

India presents long-term opportunity

Fourth Wave Wine is one Australian exporter with strong ambitions for growth within the Asia region, and establishing a presence in India is key to those ambitions.

In 2022, the Newcastle-based company launched its Elephant in the Room pinot noir and chardonnay in India, trialling a smaller 375ml bottle to cater to lower consumption rates. The price was targeted at customers looking for an affordable alternative to high-end varieties.

Peter Ham, Asia Export Manager for Fourth Wave Wine, said Australia’s early position as India’s key exporter provided a unique opportunity to grow with the market.

“One or two Australian wine brands have paved the way for Australian wines in the Indian market, and there is an opportunity for innovative Australian brands to consolidate Australia’s position as the leading imported category in India,” said Ham.

“Wine consumption rates are still very low per capita, but given the size of the population, India certainly represents a good opportunity in the future as more consumers enter the wine category.”

AI-ECTA paves path for Australian wines in India

AI-ECTA provides an immediate cut to the 150% federal tariff on wine imports. Bottles priced between US$5 and US$15 will see tariffs reduced to 100% and 50% in 10 years. While bottles priced US$15 and over will see taxes reduced to 75% and 25% after 10 years.  

“India has some of the highest import tariffs on wine imports in the world,” said Ham. “Although the initial reductions being introduced will only benefit a very small volume of wines above a certain FOB price point, any reduction can only help Australian exports to India.”

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