Regional President on how booze business kept fizzing amid pandemic

The alcohol industry in India took a heavy hit across both 2020 and 2021 with the government implementing alcohol bans​ as part of COVID-19 lockdown restrictions – and even industry heavyweights such as AB InBev were not spared the impacts of this.

“The industry as a whole basically just came to a grinding halt, particularly in Q2 of last year.”Sharma told FoodNavigator-Asia​.

“Indeed, we were not immune to the very large dip in the industry – Our mix of products is more premium, as some 50% of our product volume mix comes from premium brands so the impacts for us were not as large as for mainstream products. , as affluent consumers in India did not trade down, but still, we saw a significant dip.

“That said, since August of last year, we have seen some green shoots in the Indian markets that were less impacted by COVID-19 in terms of taxes or cess, eg those where such duties were quickly retracted, such as markets in the north and east of India like Delhi, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh – these markets actually saw some growth versus pre-pandemic levels.

“But in many other states where the industry representation is larger such as Maharashtra, Telangana, these places saw more impacts from COVID-19 taxes and the industry here is taking a lot longer to – and still hasn’t, so we’re actually still about 10% to 20% lower here versus pre-pandemic levels and because of the weight of these states, the total beer industry I would say is still trailing pre-pandemic levels in the high single digits.”

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