The alcoholic beverage industry in India was unfazed by the global meltdown and inflation as it remained in high spirits, marking a double-digit growth in the year 2008. In a year that saw inflation touching a 13-year high of 12.82 per cent in August, the 150 million cases beer market grew by 15 per cent, according to All India Breweries Association figures.
The wine segment, which has a total market size of around 1.5 million cases, posted even a higher growth rate of 30 per cent, as per International Wines and Spirits Record, while other alcoholic beverages, with a market size of 190 million cases, grew at 15 per cent. Ironically, prices of spirits spiralled high shooting up to 30 per cent in some parts of India. The average price of generally consumed liquors ranges between Rs 600 and Rs 1,500 per bottle of 750 ml. High prices of molasses, the basic raw material for producing alcohol, had sky-rocketed forcing companies to pass on the increased input costs to tipplers.
However, on the corporate front, it was a rather quiet year in terms of big-ticket mergers and acquisitions, but the domestic landscape did feel the ripples of take-overs in the global arena. A case in point is the 7.8 billion pounds take-over of Scottish and Newcastle, which owned 37.5 per cent stake in United Breweries, by a consortium of Carlsberg and Heineken, resulting in conflict of interests in India.