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July 02, 2020 | Food & Beverages
Beer is one of the most popular alcoholic beverages in the world, produced through an intricate fermentation process, which involves water, kiln-dried germinated barley, yeast, and hops. The beverage has a rich antiquity, dating back to 6000 BCE, when beer was made from barley in the ancient kingdoms of Babylonia and Sumer. Mechanized brewing techniques were introduced during the Industrial Revolution in the 19th century with scientists such as Louis Pasteur and Emile Hansen bringing in further advancements in fermentation methods through intensive research. Beer brewing in the 21st century has become a well-structured and extensively automated industry worth billions of dollars. According to Fortune Business Insights, in 2018, the global beer market size stood at USD 693.39 billion and is expected to rise significantly in the foreseeable future. Fortune Business Insights has also profiled top 10 players in the global beer market. Rising disposable income and favorable climatic conditions in Asia Pacific and high adoption rate of advanced brewing technologies in North America and Europe will be the key market drivers in the forthcoming years.
COVID-19 Pandemic: Declining Beer Sales May Cast a Shadow on the Market in the Short-Term
Eruption of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020 has plunged the world economy into recession and the beer industry has observed a negative impact. Some of the top beer companies in the world have reported falling sales volume since the pandemic broke out. For example, the Danish brewer Carlsberg revealed a decline of 7.4% in organic revenue and 7.6% fall in total sales volume in March 2020 as a result of lockdown of bars and cafes worldwide. Similarly, Heineken Lager Beer, the Dutch brewing major, reported a whopping 68% fall in net profit, plummeting from €299 million in 2019 to €94 million in the first quarter of 2020 due to the coronavirus. Breweries have been appealing to government authorities to ease restrictions to restart their productions and sales operations. In India, for instance, alcohol sales are a major source of revenue for state governments. Citing this, the Craft Brewers Association of India requested the Karnataka government to temporarily waive restrictions on sale of craft beer in the state in a bid to help microbreweries. However, as COVID cases continue to rise, the future of the beer market remains uncertain.
Established in 2008 and one of the top beer companies based in Belgium, AB InBev holds a substantial portion of the global beer market share, expanding its presence in Asia Pacific after listing its Budweiser business on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in 2019. The company is also renowned for its “Bud Light” lager beer, especially in the United States. In June 2020, the brewery partnered with Tiger Pistol, a social advertising company, to provide support to AB’s network of local bars, restaurants, and retailers around the world through the COVID-19 crisis.
The Dutch beer company was started in 1873 and today commands an impressive share of the global beer market. The brewer is known for its aggressive marketing and is strategically expanding in the lucrative regions of Asia and Africa. Currently, it has presence in over 51 countries worldwide.
In November 2019, the company announced that it will be the “official beer sponsor” for the UEFA EURO 2020 tournament and will continue its partnership with the UEFA Champions League till 2024. In April 2020, in a bid to aid local pubs, restaurants, and coffee shops shut down due to the coronavirus, the company supported Tiger®, one of Asia’s top beer brands, in its #SupportOurStreets initiative across Asia.
With a truly global presence, the 173-year-old Danish brewer is diversifying its offerings at a rapid rate and is currently engaged in expanding its revenue streams. In 2019, the company generated revenue of USD 9.87 billion, strengthening its position as one of the top beer companies in the world. Moreover, the brewery is also penetrating the Southeast Asian market through partial acquisition of Cambrew Brewery in Cambodia. Besides this, the company is also looking to contribute to sustainability, with the opening of its new “Total Water Recycling Plant” in Denmark in June 2020.
Founded in 1984, the Boston Beer Company, or BBC, is known for its much-acclaimed Samuel Adams beer range, featuring more than 60 styles of the beverage. The company generated USD 1.25 billion in revenue in 2019, exhibiting its strong presence in the global market. In May 2019, the company announced its plans to merge with Dogfish Head Brewery to create a unified platform for craft beer in the US.
This Japanese beer & soft drinks giant was founded in 1889 in Osaka, Japan and today has a massive global presence. The group’s annual revenue in 2019 stood at USD 19.50 billion, placing it in a leading position in the Asian beer market. Furthermore, with a view to widen its business horizons in Asia Pacific, Asahi took over AB InBev’s Australian business arm in June 2020 and is constantly expanding its operations globally and bolstering its position as one of the top beer producers worldwide.
Headquartered in Chicago, Molson Coors was established in 2005 following the merger of Canada’s Molson and US’s Coors companies. Despite having a strong global presence, the company’s revenues declined by 1.8% in 2019, reaching USD 10.6 billion. In June 2020, Molson entered into an agreement with the Miami Cocktail Company and Bodega Bay, the UK-based hard-seltzer maker, to distribute its super premium beers across the UK and Ireland. The company aims to expand its international presence through this partnership.
Started in 1885 in Osaka, Japan, is a major player in the global market with a strong product portfolio and considerable global presence. The company reported an operating profit of JPY 191 billion in 2019 and is strategically enhancing its operations and broadening its sales horizons worldwide. In May 2020, the company collaborated with the Juntendo University Faculty of Medicine for a research study which showed that bitter acids extracted from hops, the bitter component in beers, can improve cognitive function in older adults. The study was aimed at advancing therapies for Japan’s rapidly aging population.
This British brewing company was founded in 1895 in London and has since been engaged in multiple partnerships and collaborations with brewers around the world. For instance, the company entered into a joint venture with Molson Coors to form MillerCoors to produce beverages in the US. In 2016, it was wholly acquired by the Belgian brewer AB InBev and is listed on stock exchanges in New York, Brussels, and Johannesburg.
Founded in 1990, Breckenridge Brewery is based in Colorado, US and supplies beers in 42 US states. The company was acquired by AB InBev, the Belgian beer behemoth, in 2016. The company is known for its high-quality beer offerings and constant innovation has placed it as one of the top beer companies in the world. In February 2020, the company joined forces with Denver Nuggets to brew a bright, richly-flavored copper lager called ‘Mile High City’ for beer enthusiasts in Colorado.
The Beijing-based brewing pioneer was started in 1993 and today occupies a prominent position in the world beer market. The company is famous for its low alcohol content beers, which has enabled it to create a niche space for itself in the Asian market. Its flagship brand “Snow” is one of the biggest beer brands in the world in terms of volume and is the prime reason for the company’s sustained performance over the years. The brewery is currently building its distribution network in Europe to establish itself in the continent.
Beer offers a wide range of proven health benefits such as lowering of bad cholesterol levels, preventing kidney stones, and improving cognitive functions. Therefore, global beer production, though presently deflated on account of the rampant spread of the coronavirus, is likely to pick up pace once the crisis abates and economic activities get normalized.