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Drinks Exhibitors Toast the Good Health of India's Brewing Sector

Driven by its still expanding middle class and ever-rising levels of disposable income, India's brewing sector finds itself in surprisingly good cheer, according to many exhibitors and attendees at the recent Mumbai Drink Technology India expo.

Photo: Cheersthen: Well-educated, middle-class drinkers are fuelling sales in India’s beverages sector.
Cheersthen: Well-educated, middle-class drinkers are fuelling sales in India's beverages sector.
Photo: Cheersthen: Well-educated, middle-class drinkers are fuelling sales in India’s beverages sector.
Cheersthen: Well-educated, middle-class drinkers are fuelling sales in India's beverages sector.

Now in its fourth year under one roof, the most recent iteration of the combined Drink Technology India, International PackTech India and FoodPex India event attracted a record number of visitors and exhibitors. In total, some 298 exhibitors in the fields of food and drink packaging, processing and technology attended the three-day event in December, while almost 12,000 visitors made their way to Mumbai's Bombay Convention & Exhibition Centre, an 18% increase on the previous event in 2014.

In town to promote its range of brewing solutions, Praj – one of India's most successful biofuel companies – was clearly more than happy with its reception at the show. Introducing the business, Tushar Dhore, Praj's Business Development Deputy Manager, said: "We are primarily a project-based business, with a particular focus on providing end-to-end solutions for setting up breweries. With five verticals, our company had an Rp1.2 billion [US$18 million] turnover last year. This year we are aiming for [Rp1.3 billion-Rp1.5 billion].

"Typically, the Indian brewery market has a 1.8-1.9% per capita consumption increase per annum. In order to meet this growing demand, new plants are required every year and this exhibition enables us to connect with the brewers planning these new developments."

Similarly happy with the volume of visitors at the event, as well as their trade credentials, was VGS Babu, Head of Sales for Krones India, the local subsidiary of a German packaging technology company. Reflecting on his experience at the event, he said: "You can always be sure of meeting the right business contacts at the Drink Technology India show. This year, once again, the attendance level at the fair is very good, while the quality of delegates is also extremely high.

"As we don't currently have a manufacturing operation in India, we find that it's something of a challenge to remain competitive against local manufacturers, particularly in terms of pricing. India does, however, represent a huge opportunity for us, on account of both the accrued benefits of globalisation and the greater demand for processed food locally, something that has been spurred on by rising disposable-income levels."

Another exhibitor seemingly enjoying the show was Napoleon Biswajeet Pattanaik, Associate Director of BrewMaster Hospitality, a four-year-old microbrewery. Explaining his own take on the evolving local drinks sector, he said: "The Indian market is very strong and our customers are increasingly better educated. The country also enjoys liberal excise policies, which bodes well for the future of the business."

As well as its core operations in India, BrewMaster has also expanded into Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, and now sees itself as one of the more significant players in the micro-brewing, brewing-supplies and contract-brewing sectors.

Photo: Lehui’s fermentation tanks.
Lehui’s fermentation tanks.
Photo: Lehui’s fermentation tanks.
Lehui’s fermentation tanks.
Photo: Tech-Long’s juice-filling machinery.
Tech-Long’s juice-filling machinery.
Photo: Tech-Long’s juice-filling machinery.
Tech-Long’s juice-filling machinery.

One exhibitor who had already signed up for the next DrinkPack event was Rajat Kedia, Director of Manjushree Technopack, a specialist plastics packaging company based in southwestern India. He said: "We have been exhibiting at DTI since the very beginning and it has improved with every passing year. We attend both to catch up with our existing customer base and to attract new clients. In our experience, the quality of attendees improves from event to event and, as a result, we have already entered the 2018 exhibition on our calendar."

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Chinese packaging companies were also well represented at the event with Tech-Long Packaging Machinery, Lehui Industry, WenZhou WuRong Science and Technology and Zhangjiagang Beyond Machinery all in attendance.

Lin Changfu, General Manager of Ningbo City-headquartered Lehui Industry's local subsidiary, was convinced that India was an ideal market for his company, which has been operating on the sub-continent since 2013. Striking a note of caution, though, he said: "While the country's brewing industry has a faster growth rate than many others, India is a difficult market for overseas players if they are not aware of the local customs."

Leuhui claims to be one of the largest brewing-equipment manufacturers in Asia. It currently provides brewing and packaging equipment to the Chinese brewing industry and to an increasing number of brewers around the world.

James Chen, the Regional Sales Manager for Tech-Long, the Guangzhou-headquartered beverage packaging machine specialist, was also bullish about India, saying: "It has been a great market for us. We are making serious inroads into its beverages sector, even though it has proved to be highly competitive. Overall, the product liquid filling market is expanding. We have been established here since 2006 and our sales are still showing year-on-year growth."

Another overseas exhibitor at the event was Ishida India, a wholly owned subsidiary of Ishida Japan. Launched in April 2007, the company's local presence came about in response to growing demand in India. Located in Gurgaon, in Western India, Ishida specialises in weighing and packaging solutions for the food and pharmaceutical industries.

Reflecting on its long ties to the local market, Jiro Hatakeyama, Managing Director of Ishida India, said: "We first entered the Indian market in 1986 and our products have now been in use here for 21 years, which has given us a wide and loyal customer base.

"Since 2000, when India first became a focus of international attention as a pre-eminent member of the BRICS group of economies, demand for our weighing and packaging systems has increased rapidly, especially among the bigger players. The country's rapid economic growth has created a large middle class, which is now some 200 million strong and has immense purchasing power.

"As demand for food continues to grow exponentially, producers in the sector have had to expand their processing facilities to meet the requirements of the market – all of which has translated into good business for us. We are already big in the snack industry and we are now looking at opportunities in the pharmaceuticals sector."

Photo: Drink Technology India: What’s brewing in the alcoholic beverages sector?
Drink Technology India: What's brewing in the alcoholic beverages sector?
Photo: Drink Technology India: What’s brewing in the alcoholic beverages sector?
Drink Technology India: What's brewing in the alcoholic beverages sector?

Drink Technology India, International PackTech India and FoodPex India were jointly held from 15-17 December 2016 at Mumbai's Bombay Convention & Exhibition Centre.

Geoff de Freitas, Special Correspondent, Mumbai

Content provided by Picture: HKTDC Research
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