Prospects for the beer industry are spilling forth

Increased beer consumption has made Asia the world’s largest beer market, overtaking Europe. Analysts predict that the earnings of Asia’s beer market will reach over US$144 billion in 2012.

According to industry experts, Asia currently accounts for 31.7% of global beer consumption, compared to a lower 30.8% in the European sector. This means Asia has, for  the first time, overtaken Europe in the beer market, with China and India leading the way in beer consumption.

And the rise in beer consumption in Asia doesn’t stop there. Analysts in Credit Suisse’s World Map of Beer predict that China’s beer market is growing at an annual rate of 10%.

For the four biggest beer breweries – Anheuser-Busch InBev, SABMiller, Carlsberg, and Heineken, this is good news, considering that these companies dominate nearly half the world market. The Japanese beer company Kirin is still looking to expand its reach after its merger with San Miguel, trying to look at possibilities in the domestic and overseas markets.

In China, leading beer brands such as Snow Beer continue to rake in profits, especially with a joint venture between Hong Kong-based China Resource Enterprise and SABMiller. Meanwhile, India is showing promising potential with its growing consumer base. The demand for beer is getting stronger, especially in untapped markets such as restaurants and pubs.

Other Asian countries like Thailand and Vietnam are also predicted to increase beer consumption due to a boost in purchasing power of the middle classes, and further investments in food and drink supply infrastructure.

Recently, novelty approaches to the manufacture of beer are on the rise. These include the launching and reintroduction of new concepts in Flavoured Malt Beverages (FMB), with such innovations as distilled alcohol mixed with fruit juices or other flavourings, or so-called wine coolers.

The emergence of these drinks is geared toward new consumers with other tastes and preferences. In Europe and Canada, FMBs are usually pre-mixed spirits, while in the US, there are two kinds of FMB – the light one with more sugar and flavouring, and the heavier ones that are comparable to hard liquor, with higher alcohol content. Major players in FMB in the US include Bacardi, Smirnoff with its Smirnoff Ice, and Mike’s

Hard Lemonade. Major European companies such as brewer Carlsberg are also expanding their FMB offerings by launching Somersby Cider and Eve, a FMB geared toward women, on the Russian market. Another company that has sought alternatives to beer production is Anheuser-Busch InBev, which has worked with Bacardi Beverage to produce cocktail inspired alternatives.

The market for FMBs still has potential. FMBs flavours can attract consumers, as well as consumer’s preferences for convenience. In the meantime, companies are also gearing up for super-low calorie beers, such as MillerCoors’ lemon-flavoured version of MGD 64 and Anheuser-Busch InBev’s Bud Select 55. These ultra-light beers, which only have 64 and 55 calories, respectively, are both competing heavily for consumer attention in the US.

Overall, the beer industry has long been established in Europe and the US. Its next market, Asia, is experiencing a major boom. Flavoured malt beverages and flavoured low-calorie beers are also striving to be included in the race.