Bengaluru: United Breweries Ltd (UBL), the maker of Kingfisher beer, on Thursday launched Amstel in India from its Dutch parent Heineken NV’s stable, to take on Carlsberg Elephant in the super-premium strong beer segment.

The company will now have four beers in the super-premium beer market—two mild (Heineken and Kingfisher Ultra) and two strong (Kingfisher Ultra Max and Amstel). The target is to take UBL’s market share in the super-premium beer segment to 50% over the next two years with these four brands, the company’s marketing head Samar Singh Sheikhawat said.

The company estimates that it currently has an about 20% market share in the super-premium beer segment.

Amstel will first be available in Karnataka and Pondicherry. In the next quarter, it will be launched in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, followed by most markets in the west in the following quarter and then the north in the third quarter.

This is only the second brand from Heineken’s portfolio, apart from the Dutch company’s eponymous beer label, launched by UBL that will be bottled in India. Amstel will be brewed and bottled locally out of a brewery near Mysuru in Karnataka.

Amstel, which has its roots in Amsterdam, will be priced at par with Carlsberg Elephant. A 650ml bottle of Amstel will cost about Rs140 in Karnataka, while the 500ml can will be priced at Rs105. Carlsberg Elephant costs around Rs140 for a 650ml bottle and Rs100 for the 500ml can.

“The one gap that existed in our portfolio was we didn’t have an international super-premium strong beer. We have super-premium strong beer with Ultra Max but that’s domestic, not international. There’s a certain audience that wants an international super-premium strong beer and the two options that they have today are Carlsberg Elephant and Budweiser Magnum," Sheikhawat said.

Anheuser-Busch InBev’s Budweiser Magnum and UBL’s Kingfisher Ultra Max are both priced higher than Amstel and Carlsberg Elephant. While Amstel will still, in some ways, compete with UBL’s own brands—from Kingfisher Strong and Storm to Ultra Max—the company expects to grab share mainly from Carlsberg Elephant.

“At the end of the day, every strong beer competes with every other strong beer depending on occasion, budget, brand. It’s not a watertight compartment. The reality is that people who are drinking Tuborg Strong, Knockout, Hayward’s 5000 and even Kingfisher Strong will also upgrade," Sheikhawat said, adding that the company wanted to fill its portfolio gap nevertheless.

It also decided to fill that gap from its Dutch parent rather than create something within because within the super-premium market, beers with an international heritage and ingredients and branding are growing at faster rates than their domestic counterparts.

While the domestic strong beer market is growing in the single-digits, according to the company, the international strong beer space has clocked a three-year compound annual growth rate of 40%.

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