The drinkers are back in the bar with a bang

Mumbai | New Delhi: Alcohol consumption in bars and restaurants has now reached pre-Covid levels at around 30% of overall sales, completely reversing the trend during the pandemic when most people were drinking at home. The “on-trade” channel which includes bars, restaurants, hotels, nightclubs, has fallen to around 10% of the overall share in 2020 – it is historically around 27-30% – in a context of mobility restricted and fewer social gatherings.

“Retail growth is higher because last year in the first quarter in many states or almost all states there was a crackdown on where beer is consumed at the point of sale. You so see phenomenal growth while your retail growth would be less,” PA Poonacha, Vice President, Finance at

India’s largest brewer, told investors.

But a low base wasn’t the only reason. A combination of factors ranging from rationalization of prices in markets such as Mumbai, Kolkata and Chandigarh, and revenge restaurants to peak summer season has resulted in record sales. For example, in the quarter ended June, UBL, the maker of Kingfisher beer, saw its volumes more than double and recorded 8% growth even compared to the pre-Covid quarter of 2019.

Budweiser Brewing Co APAC, a unit of AB InBev, saw its Indian operations outperform the industry as volumes recovered above pre-pandemic levels. Its combined premium and super premium portfolio doubled in size, helped by the weak base from last year’s Covid outbreak.

“Alcobev sales across our casual dining and resto-bar brands are now well above 2019 figures. The decline was more pronounced for beer due to its strong association with outdoor social occasions rather than ‘With home consumption, in addition to space and refrigeration limitations favoring spirits over beer, especially for young urban consumers,’ said Anjan Chatterjee, president of Specialty Restaurants.

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In 2019, the Indian Premier League cricket tournament and the summer months, which both historically boosted demand for beer, failed to revive the segment which suffered from dry days due to the general election. . This was followed by two years of constant confinement during the summer months, a period which generates almost 35-40% of brewers’ income.

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