Alcohol Industry in India

India’s alcohol industry is the third largest in the world with a value of $35 billion. The industry is divided into three categories: Indian Manufactured Foreign Liquor (IMFL), beer, and homemade liquor.

Whiskey dominates the IMFL category, and India has the largest whiskey industry in the world. India-based United Spirits Limited’s McDowell’s No. 1 is the most prominent whiskey. Its Royal Challenge and Bagpiper are also popular. Other prevalent whiskeys include French Pernod Ricard’s Imperial Blue, Seagram’s Blender’s Pride, and Royal Stag and Japanese Beam Global’s Teacher’s. Rum is the second most common spirit in India. India-based Mohan Meakin Ltd.’s Old Monk is popular. Gin and vodka also comprise the IMFL category, growing in demand among urban youth and women. Bermuda-based Bacardi’s Bombay Sapphire gin and U.K.-based Diageo’s Smirnoff vodka are top products.

The beer category is mainly comprised of strong beer (with an alcohol content of at least 8%). India-based United Breweries, 42% owned by Dutch beer giant Heineken, dominates the market with its Kingfisher. U.K.-based SAB Miller’s Miller, Foster’s, and Royal Challenge and Denmark-based Carlsberg’s Carlsberg and Tuborg are also popular options. While weaker beers are less common, brands such as Kingfisher provide options with lower alcohol content.

The homemade liquor segment is mostly comprised of regional Indian drinks. Feni, a spirit made from cashews or coconuts, is produced exclusively in the western state of Goa. Palm wine, made from the sap of palm trees, is common in India. Arrack is another prevalent alcoholic drink made from coconut, sugarcane, or fruit sap. This category is mostly unbranded, locally distributed, and consumed by blue-collar and lower-middle class workers.

The wine category is growing due to wine tourism and marketing, which draw middle class urban consumers. The majority of wine consumption occurs in the cities of Mumbai, Delhi, and Bangalore. India’s largest vineyards are located in the states of Maharashtra and Karnataka. Prevalent wines include Grover’s Zampa, Four Seasons’ Four Seasons, and Samant Soma Wines’ Sula.

Spirit and beer imports are categorized into foreign liquor bottled in India and foreign liquor bottled in origin. Imports total less than one million cases annually. A fourth of the wine consumed in India is imported from California, France, Australia, and Chile. According to India’s Agriculture & Food Export Authority, the country exported $343 million of alcoholic beverages to nations including the U.A.E., Ghana, Angola, Nigeria, and Singapore in 2014.

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