As I discussed back in November, the big boys of brewing are not finding the international arena as bountiful as they’d hoped. More reports are coming in of declining (or, at best, plateauing) sales across a range of markets.
SAB Miller certainly seem to be taking some hits, as do Danish giants Carlsberg (hence me giving their elephant a calming hug).
What is unclear from these reports is whether the international players are hurting more than domestic rivals (where there are such). By rights the multinationals should be spreading their risks more effectively and have some cost advantages. But any cost lead may have been eaten up in acquisition premiums as they’ve spread their wings chasing international markets over the past decade.
That latest news piece seems to confirm the earlier November news showing consumers in emerging markets abandoning the amber nectar as they feel the recessionary pinch (i.e. beer seems more income elastic in such markets). This begs the question where these big brewers are going to find more market growth, given the very low growth in sales in the developed world. Maybe more high-end product.
Alternatively they might want to follow the lead of Australia’s third biggest brewer Coopers, who also happen to be the world’s largest producer of “home brew” concentrates (the core ingredient for making beer at home). They are reporting considerable sales growth at the moment. Looks like folks are chasing more crafted beers, but at bargain prices (or more positively, seek a more hands-on beer encounter).