India’s largest beer maker, United Breweries has some news for all us beer-drinkers. The liquor giant will introduce an alcohol-free variant of its popular Kingfisher brand beer in the country by early next year in order to put its Bihar-based brewery back into action. Following the prohibition in Bihar, UB’s brewery has been lying still and with this new product, the company plans to not only rev it up but also step foot in the alcohol-prohibited markets.
“We are working on a project to introduce non-alcoholic malt based beverages. We will manufacture these products at our Bihar site,” Shekhar Ramamurthy said, adding “We are currently at an early stage of development and will introduce these products early next year.”
Although United Breweries’ major stakeholder, Dutch liquor baron Heineken, recently launched a similar alcohol-free version in with almost half the calories of a standard Heineken in 17 markets globally, a source close to the developments closer home added that “this is not the same as the Heineken one”.
While the zero-alcohol beer does have a well-defined target market, experts are saying that its launch could be challenging, as strong beers comprise for 85 per cent of the Indian market.
“It depends on how the product tastes, the price and positioning of the product. In the West, on various instances, similar products have failed on account of taste,” said Abneesh Roy, senior vice-president at Edelweiss Financial Services. “(But) the zero-alcohol beers could offer brewers higher margins because of lower taxes and become a go-to-brand for health conscious and religious individuals,” the source revealed.
This move by UB will help the Kingfisher brand boost sales in important states that have either nationalized or downright banned liquor trade and retail. These include Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Tamil Nadu, which together account for almost 40 per cent of the total alcohol consumption in the country.
Source: Economic Times
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