Home / Companies / News /  Heineken expands premium beer portfolio in India

NEW DELHI: United Breweries Ltd., part of the Amsterdam-based Heineken Group, on Thursday announced the launch of Heineken Silver, expanding its presence in the premium beer category in India.

The launch will drive and accelerate the growth of the premium beer category in India, said a top executive at the company.

In India, the beer is available in both on- and off-trade retail channels in Bengaluru. Heineken Silver’s 330-ml pint is priced at 120, the 500-ml can at 160 and the 650-ml bottle at 200 across off-trade retail outlets in Bengaluru. Silver will also be launched in other markets in the next few months.

In 2021, Heineken N.V. obtained a controlling stake in United Breweries in India following the acquisition of additional ordinary shares in the homegrown brewer taking its shareholding in UBL from 46.5% to 61.5%. While UBL’s Kingfisher continues to be the largest beer brand in the country, the Heineken brand has three variants in India including the original, Heineken 0.0 and the Silver. The company also sells the Amstel brew in India.

Heineken Silver is targeted towards younger consumers. “It’s the premium beer for millennials and Gen-Z in India and that’s that’s how we think about that proposition," Rajeev Sathyesh, Asia-Pacific Director, Brand – Heineken said in a virtual interview on Thursday.

Sathyesh said Heineken as a brand has been growing in double digits—this is especially true in the Asia Pacific region where younger demographic, growth in disposable incomes and an upwardly mobile middle class drives growth for premium brews.

To be sure, Heineken is a much smaller brand in India compared to Kingfisher. “Heineken is significantly smaller. Kingfisher is a behemoth, it’s a juggernaut and it is synonymous with the beer category. Heineken is tiny when compared to that. Having said that, that’s what makes it exciting. Imagine what would happen to the total beer category in India, and for us as a company, if it were to become what it is in a lot of other countries in the world. It (Heineken) is a huge brand globally, there is no reason it should not be a huge brand in India," Sathyesh said.

India is a strong beer market with the bulk of sales for brewers coming from the segment. However, over the years younger consumers have reported an appeal for lighter and flavored brews. In fact, beer remains the preferred choice for the entry-level consumer and is seen more as a casual drink. AB InBev continues to dominate the premium beer segment, with brands such as Corona, Budweiser Strong and Hoegaarden, brokerage Elara Securities said in a report earlier this year.

Meanwhile, Sathyesh said Heineken will continue to look to fill gaps in its portfolio. Globally it offers brews such as Desperados, Sol, and Tiger. “As a company we always look for spaces, where there are gaps or territories within the portfolio where we can serve consumers’ needs and consumers needs are evolving. From time to time, we will keep launching propositions that we believe either cater to those unmet needs or serve the needs of consumers better," he added.

While Sathyesh declined to share the company’s future product pipeline, he said that India remains a critical market for the company.

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