“India is the cradle of the human race, the birthplace of human speech, the mother of history, the grandmother of legend, and the great grand mother of tradition. Our most valuable materials in the history of man are treasured up in India only!”
Last month I was contacted by Mr. Bishan Kumar the Group Editor of an Indian magazine focusing on the liquor trade called Spiritz. Mr. Kumar is my type of editor/publisher, someone with a passion for his publication and his readers. We hit it off from the outset and the next thing you know, I’m writing a monthly column called Booze Abroad.
It made me think how little most Americans know about India. From an alcohol industry perspective, India is the subject of many misperceptions and, until recently, you could have included me in that criticism.
Things you might want to know about India and why I’m thrilled to have an audience there –
Their spirits business is the 3rd largest in the world (236 million cases) and ahead of the US, which is # 4. The industry is dominated by brown spirits and growing at the rate of 18 to 20% per year.
United Spirits Limited (USL) run by Dr. Vijay Mallya, is the major company in the market. It’s the second largest spirits company in the world…and growing. Lookout Diageo.
The dominant factor in the market is Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) and all the major global players have a presence in the country. In fact, the # 2 player in the market is Pernod Ricard India Ltd, which had an 8% volume share of spirits in 2010. (By the way, that company was previously Seagram India Ltd. Enough said.)
The future outlook for spirits is quite good based on a number of factors — rising income levels and a growing middle class; a youthful population; international travel and exposure to premium products. All that is fueling a demand for imported products like tequila/mezcal and bourbon/other US whiskies. Currently, whisky, vodka and rum dominate the market.
Oh, and it’s not just about liquor. Beer is flying off the shelves and the wine business, while still small, is growing.
All in all, it’s a fascinating country with a robust and interesting booze industry. With all my international travel, I’m sorry to say I’ve never been to India – a situation I hope will soon change.