MOSCOW, June 16 (Reuters) – AB InBev Efes, a Russia-based unit of the world’s largest brewer Anheuser-Busch InBev (ABI.BR), expects double-digit growth in sales of local non-alcoholic beer over the next few years, after COVID-19 accelerated a shift towards healthier lifestyles.
While many beer enthusiasts around the world have turned to home consumption during the pandemic, sales of non-alcoholic beer in Russia – the sixth largest beer market in the world – have increased by 13%. year on year, while the overall beer market grew by 4%, according to AB InBev Efes.
The company’s non-alcoholic beer sales in Russia jumped 20% last year, Dmitry Shpakov, CEO of AB InBev Efes, told Reuters.
“Healthy lifestyles, which became popular long before the pandemic, gained momentum last year and helped increase consumer interest in non-alcoholic beer, generating double-digit growth,” Shpakov said.
AB InBev Efes, which operates in Russia and Ukraine and offers BUD, Stella Artois and Spaten among others, expects this trend to continue over the next few years, Shpakov said.
“The (non-alcoholic beer) industry has more than doubled in the last four to five years. And the further we look, the more non-alcoholic beer does not replace alcoholic beer, but becomes a category of its own. whole. “
Despite the recent increase, the share of non-alcoholic beer in the Russian market is just over 2%, well below 11% in Spain or 8% in Germany, Shpakov said.
Reflecting a larger boom in the Russian e-commerce market, AB InBev Efes’ online sales of alcohol-free beer, which includes lagers, fruit beers and white beers, grew 400% in the first quarter through compared to the previous year, said Shpakov.
Sales of premium beer also increased last year, but AB InBev Efes had its fastest growing in the imported beer segment, with sales up around 31%, a trend that Shpakov said continued in 2021.
Interest in imported beer and local producers has been ongoing in Russia for a few years, said Pavel Funtikov of NielsenIQ Russia, as consumer interest in niche, local products and a wider selection of brands has grown. is increased.
AB InBev Efes, Carlsberg and Heineken are the biggest players in the Russian beer market, but the growing number of small brewers reduced their market share to 67.5% in 2020 from 81.7% in 2012, according to NielsenIQ .
(AB InBev Efes corrects the statement cited in paragraph 7 to show that its 11% share of the non-alcoholic beer market is in Spain, not Italy)
Reporting by Anna Rzhevkina; Editing by Alexander Marrow and Elaine Hardcastle
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