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2008 signifies Year of the Beer
- Five international brands announce entry into Calcutta market

City tipplers can celebrate 2008 as Year of the Beer. Five international brands are set to make a foray in the Calcutta market, dominated by domestic players, next year.

Poila Baisakh will see the entry of Tiger beer from Singapore, while Budweiser and Carlsberg will arrive just before Puja.

Earlier this year, Anheuser-Busch, the makers of Budweiser beer, announced its entry into India through a 50-50 joint venture with the Hyderabad-based Crown Beers.

Danish beer Carlsberg last year announced operations in India through its venture South Asian Breweries. The beer is available in the southern and western parts of the country. The company has acquired stakes in Parag brewery, in Hooghly, where production will start soon.

Tuborg, another Danish beer, will make its way to the shelves along with Carlsberg. Heineken, another well-known brand that is now imported, will also start brewing in India in 2008.

“The next year will see competition between the domestic players and the international brands that enter the beer market,” says Sarat Kumar Parsan of Parsan Brothers, which will distribute Tiger and Heineken in West Bengal.

According to industry estimates, the Indian beer market will nearly double from 12.5 million hectolitres per year to 23.3 million hectolitres in 2012. In Calcutta, the annual consumption of beer is 33 lakh cases.

The foreign players are confident that the market will expand. “In Shanghai, the population is between 15 million and 20 million and there are 16,000 alcohol outlets, where the average price of beer is Rs 10-15. In Calcutta, there are only 600 outlets for liquor and average price is Rs 50. If the price of the beer is brought down by even Rs 10, the consumption will double,” says an official of Crown Beers.

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