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Photo: AP
Photo: AP

Craft beer loses its fizz as lockdown disrupts supply chain

  • Most of the craft beer producers say they have stocks but it will probably take more than a month to supply retail outlets
  • While it takes as much as 14-15 days to brew beer, supply-chain blockages may impact the availability of raw materials

NEW DELHI : Those who are eagerly waiting for a swig of craft beer may have to wait longer with the nationwide lockdown disrupting entire supply chains from manufacturing to retail.

After more than a month of lockdown, standalone liquor stores were finally permitted to reopen in some parts of the country on Monday, but stocks are limited.

To make matters worse, it may take nearly a month, and in some cases more, before the shops get fresh supplies.

“It takes 20 days to move things. About 14 days to brew the beer, and the rest of the time in packaging and dispatch," said Abhinav Jindal, founder and chief executive officer of Kimaya Himalayan Beverages. The company sells two craft beer brands, Bee Young and Yavira.

“The retail side has to function better before manufacturing can get going," he said.

In Delhi, for instance, only few government liquor stores had opened till Tuesday while private stores are still shut. Government stores usually keep three days of inventory. Private liquor shops stock more than a week’s.

Most of the craft beer producers have inventory at their warehouses and factories. But, even those would probably take more than a month to reach retail outlets.

“We had brewed a big lot just before the lockdown in March. We have 15,000 cases (one case is 12 bottles of 650ml or 24 pints of 330ml) already brewed. Half of the stock is with our distributor in Goa and rest at the corporation warehouse in Karnataka. It would take 20 days to a month to be in retail depending on how soon the excise departments give us the permit," said Anuj Kushwah, founder and managing director of Witlinger Craft Beer. Karnataka and Goa are the two markets where Witlinger is currently available.

While it takes as much as 14-15 days to brew beer, supply-chain blockages may impact the availability of raw materials. One of the main ingredients in beer is malt and Kushwah said most beer makers procure it just-in-time because smaller breweries often don’t have enough storage space. Logistics and supply chain constraints imply that metros, particularly, may face craft beer shortages.

Most of the manufacturing is done far from the cities. Bee Young and Yavira are produced in Punjab, Witlinger in Mysuru and Simba near Raipur in Chhattisgarh.

Prabhtej Singh Bhatia, founder and director, Simba, said he will initially serve places that are easily accessible.

“Logistics will be difficult. So, we are looking at supplying where the time to market is the shortest. We will be focusing on Chhattisgarh, parts of Jharkhand and West Bengal," he said.

Bhatia said trucks have to wait for long before they can enter Delhi. “No manufacturer wants that now. Cash flows are tight," he said.

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