Patna, Oct. 30: First Cobra, now Carlsberg.
The Danish brewery giant will start producing beer from its first unit in the state from the last quarter of next year.
The brewery, Carlsberg’s seventh in the country, will be set up at Bikram, 65km southwest of Patna, and will have a start-up capacity of 0.5 million hectolitres. [One hectolitre — HL — is equal to 100 litres]
The beer brewing facility will be the second in the state after the Bihta unit of Molson Coors Cobra.
Carlsberg executives said they were happy to invest in Bihar. “There has been a friendly business atmosphere in Bihar lately and we wanted to become a part of that. This brewery is an attempt to help the economic growth of Bihar and create more and better work places in the state. This brewery is being set up on an area of 24 acres and will start production by the last quarter of next year. The brewery will be expanded and its full strength capacity will be one million HL,” Soren Lauridsen, CEO, South Asia, Carlsberg India, told The Telegraph.
The company’s officials were, however, unwilling to speak on the cost of the project. However, Carlsberg India’s proposal that was approved by the State Industries Proposal Board (SIPB) laid down a total project cost of Rs 140 crore.
Lauridsen said the company had started the process of land acquirement — a difficult proposition in the state — around four months ago.
“The state government provided us with help when it came to identification of some plots. But it was a long and patient process for us as we had to talk to many landowners here and make them understand. We also had long discussions with the families of the landowners and only then was the land acquired. We are sure there will be no problems as the brewery will also give local employment opportunities to the people here. At least 60 to 70 people will be employed under the direct payroll of the company. In addition to this, workers will be hired on contract but not before a proper screening process in which their will to work and other qualities will be checked. Also, the beer manufactured here will be sent to other neighbouring states. This brewery, once functional, will bring a lot of opportunities to the state,” the chief executive said.
Lauridsen said all brands produced by Carlsberg India — Carlsberg, Carlsberg Elephant, Tuborg Green, Tuborg Strong and Palone 8 — will be brewed at the Bikram facility.
“The area has got the needed facilities like a power grid, which will solve the electricity issue for the brewery, and also a police station. Since water is very important, the plant will have a water treatment plant as well,” he added.
Carlsberg India entered the Indian market in 2006 and started production in June 2007 from its first brewery in the country at Paonta Sahib in Himachal Pradesh. Since then it has started facilities at Alwar (Rajasthan), Aurangabad (Maharashtra), Hooghly (Bengal) and at Sangareddy (Andhra Pradesh). “Very recently, we have acquired another brewery at Dharuhera in Haryana. This brewery will start operations very soon,” Lauridsen said.
Nawal Kishore Singh, a member of the Foreign Liquor Retailers’ Association, said the market for beer as well as alcohol had increased and hence, the rush to set up units.
“The market has grown and has become more competitive. One reason for this is the increase in the number of alcohol retail shops, which has resulted in more supply. One has to pay an import fee for the brands of alcohol and beer coming into the state from outside. When it comes to beer, the import fee rests at Rs 8 for each bottle in one box (crate), which consists of 12 bottles. So, the import fee for one box of beer rests at Rs 96. The companies now are thinking about saving this money as well as the transportation cost and invest in the manufacture of beer. Setting up of breweries is not a bad idea as it is a one-time investment and a brand can manufacture a lot of its products,” Singh said.