Indian’s have always been a lover of food and drinks. They are not only restricted to their regional and local tastes, but have gone beyond their geographical borders to try something new and unique. Today, the customers are well travelled across the world and are open to experimenting the new and trendy cuisine.
Not only this, over the years, the local masses have grown an appetite for a wide range of beverages, whether it is alcohol, coffee, a mix of the traditional tea, world class beer or the cocktails and mocktails. Witnessing a tremendous change in the eating and drinking habits of the consumers, the local as well as international players in the beverage segment are introducing new and trendy drinks to give consumers a taste of the world class beverage.
Most people in India are exposed to a variety of beverages like home made milkshakes, sharbats, chocolate drinks, etc from an early age. However, beverages are themselves only a ‘sidekick’ and best served as fillers in-between meals.
Over the years, beverages have gained prominence in the food service market by setting up a new, hybrid or a theme based format in the beverage segment. Microbreweries, tea lounges, pubs and bars, entertainment and beer cafes have opened doors in the country. Indianisation and localisation is the current buzzword in the food services market, with players modifying their core offerings to suit the consumer’s palate. For instance, The Beer Café has introduced the concept of Pour Your Own Beer in the market, which has succeeded in India. The format is in sharp contrast with the international markets.
We have evolved from our coffee drinking habits to more enhanced, customised cappuccino or espresso coffees. Now peopleare discovering newer tastes and today there are 90 plus varieties of different tasted beer available in the world. So, people now are opening up to newer beer experiences and drinks,” says Ankur Jain, CEO, Cerena Beverages Pvt Ltd.
At the same time, Witlinger, which is first of a kind indigenous beer launched in India by KaamaImpex has its own customer base. “Brewed in England with the finest ingredients, Witlinger offers fresh and easy drinking. It has fruity flavours making it easy to drink beer any time of the day. Beer drinking is changing in India drastically and consumers are trying different flavours and style of beers. The Kaama’s focus has always been beers and we are overwhelmed with the outstanding response Witlinger has received” says, Anuj Kushwah.
Brewing the finest beer
The beer drinking in India is increasing over the last two years. Players like Crafts Beer and The Beer Cafe have come up with new formats and ranges of beer in the country. According to the experts, beer is the third most widely taken drink after tea and coffee globally. They believe that ‘Beer is an all day beverage’ when compared with wine or other aerated drinks.
Craft Beer, launched by Ankur Jain, can be defined as specialty beer that necessarily involves a traditional brewing process using natural ingredients. The evolution of craft beer in India goes hand in hand with the food evolution processes.
For example, we have evolved from the traditional tea or coffee drinking habits to more evolved tea drinking session with customisation of tea and cappuccino or espresso coffees.
On the same line, Craft Beer has also evolved over the choice of either taking it over the food or an experiment to follow the crowd which is shifting from modernisation to going the traditional format.
On the other hand, The Beer Café, which has marketed itself very well in the country has outpaced in the beer segment. Earlier, this segment was dominated by major players like Kingfisher, Heineken and Corona, but now people are going beyond this experimenting new tastes and processes.
There has been a great shift from hard liquor to beer. The beer industry saw a major growth in the year 2013 and is still growing at the rate of 8 per cent, which shows that the preference of beer over any other alcohol is more. Usually Indians prefer whiskey that is stronger and can give them an instant buzz, but due to rapid globalization young corporate and well-travelled consumers prefer relaxing and unwinding with a pint rather than a peg,” shares Rahul Singh, Founder and CEO, The Beer Cafe.
Say cheers with wine
Wine consumption has gone through a paradigm shift due to globally travelled people and wide adoption of western culture. Today, serving and drinking wine has become a part of the culture. Seeing this growth, not only bars and pubs, but restaurants have also started serving wine with food.
According to a research by Technopak, it is estimated that wine in India has penetrated only 1-2 million individuals, resulting in a very low per capita consumption at the national level. The global per capita consumption of wine is estimated at 4 litre per annum, while the Indian figure stands at 4.6 millilitres. According to industry estimates, the per capita consumption has gone up and is estimated to be 9-10 millilitres per annum.
Today, the beverage trend is growing and about 10-15 per cent people prefers wine over a meal,” says Ashish Kapur, Co-Founder and MD, Yo! China.
The major factor that is letting this industry grow is the young age average customer who is helping drive change in business, out of the home eating culture and drinking habit and the urbanisation of people.
Not limiting here, the consumption pattern in India has changed. Popular choices have gone beyond the simple drink preferences and wine consumption is on high today. Experts say people are trying the alcoholic drink that is not only made in India, but has an internationally tag attached. For example, Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) is in high demand by the local people.
Not only this, there are certain themes that restaurants and bars serving wine are adopting. The variety of wines offered by restaurants and the type of menus offering wine depends on the complexity of the restaurant operations with reference to their price point, cuisine and style of service. For example, a fine dining restaurant will have a much more defined wine menu, while a casual dining will have a smaller menu.
The thumb rule is that any restaurant which offers wines should offer white, red, rose and sparkling wine. A casual restaurant or a QSR might only offer red and white wines as it depends on the cuisine they serve,” believes Manish Kumar Baheyti, Owner, Haute Services Pvt Ltd.
A restaurant and bar serving wine have to go through certain legalities involved. Tedious laws and procedures make Indian beer and wine market very complicated. State taxes make the segment more expensive than normal beverages as per volume.
Talking about beer, overall beer constitutes just about 5 per cent of the total alcohol consumed in the country. However, the market is expected to reach $9 billion by 2016. A lot of microbreweries are coming up in the market and the Delhi government recently announced that malls and pubs could have breweries on location.
In terms of consumers, they prefer the stronger beer varieties. Globally, it is the opposite where most of the beer consumed is mild. For running a bar and a pub, the license requires spending approximately Rs 15,000 to Rs 20, 000 and is approved within a week to a month depending on the legalities that the bar and a restaurant goes through.
New in the race
Seeking lot of opportunity in the beverage segment, Pause Wine which is known for serving world class wine has introduced ‘Indian Nectar’ a type of wine especially designed for the festive season of Christmas and New Year.
On the other hand, Witlinger, India’s first indigenous beer is launched in market by tying up with The Beer Cafe to serve the speciality beer at its Delhi-NCE and Maharashtra outlet.
Thus, we can say that the consumption of beverages in India is changing with people’s choice over a particular beverage. Today, the trend has become beverages and food rather than food and beverages.