• IN HIGH SPIRITS

    PH alcoholic drinks industry remains bubbly

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    Along with the increasing middle class, the opening of more craft bars and the promotion of booze in hotels, restaurants, and other on-trade channels have created a cocktail culture in the country, raising the alcoholic drinks sector to a bubbly state from a slump caused by higher excise tax in 2013.

    THE alcoholic drinks industry remains upbeat in Asia Pacific, including the Philippines. Global market research firm Euromonitor International says the sector’s turnover will see double-digit growth in 2016, as the region’s vast population will continue to develop a taste for alcohol. This, the industry think-tank says, should embolden major alcohol producers to build up their capacity.

    In fact, “Asian consumers will require a variety of beers, wines, and cocktails for different occasions,” trade magazine Asia Pacific Food quotes Euromonitor International industry analyst Arunas Umbrasas as saying. As such, booze producers must be able to offer a wide range of products to remain competitive.

    “Nearly half of alcohol consumption will take place at bars, restaurants, hotels, and other venues, where domestic producers will continue to struggle with foreign competitors,” Umbrasas points out. “The premium segment will be comprised of imported rather than domestic drinks.”

    The situation at the home front doesn’t differ much. In a report, Euromonitor International says the opening of new bars in the Philippines has allowed direct or indirect promotions of brands, such as Bacardi, Hennesy, and Johnnie Walker, pushing the cocktail culture in the country a notch higher.

    “The increased availability of cocktails, which make use of spirits, directly and indirectly promoted imported spirits, which ultimately increased overall consumer awareness of spirits brands,” the market monitor points out. “For example, premium and super premium spirits, such as Hendrick’s, Monkey 47, Yamazaki Distiller’s Reserve, and Hakushu 12 Year Old are some of the brands not sold in the off-trade channel, but which are available in upscale on-trade outlets with strong cocktail menus.”

    For starters, “on-trade” refers to business with hotels, bars, and restaurants, while “off-trade” means sales by food retailers like supermarkets, etc.

    “Stressing the popularity of the cocktail culture in the country, even Ginebra San Miguel wanted to appeal to consumers of cocktails, when it launched its Ginebra San Miguel ‘Gin On The Go,’ a mobile market bar, in Midnight Mercato in October 2015,” Euromonitor International observes. “Through this mobile bar, Ginebra San Miguel offers cocktails using different gin products, such as the flagship brands GSM Blue, GSM Blue Flavors, and Ginebra San Miguel Premium Gin.”

    Moving forward, the report says on-trade channels are crucial in boosting the cocktail culture in the country.

    The opening of more craft bars and restaurants will help propel the spirits business, it says, as foodservice establishments raise awareness of spirits brands. The industry monitor expects the sector to continue recovering from a slump in 2013, when the sector was slapped with higher excise tax.

    The think-tank forecasts steady growth in the next five years for the industry, especially for wines, which get patronized more at restaurants and bars by the growing middle class and the upscale market, which seems to “remain indifferent to price movements.”

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