By now, I expect most people have heard of the BRIC countries – Brazil, Russia, India and China – which are cited regularly as the emerging economies that will power the global financial world further into this century. And here’s proof positive that for at least one international brewer, one of those nations is proving to be most vital to its bottom line.
Judging by several reports in the international media, just-drinks.com and the Wall Street Journal included, the global brewing leviathan Anheuser-Busch InBev has strong reason to be grateful to one of their three home markets, Brazil. According to the WSJ story, “a strong performance in Brazil offset weakness in the U.S. and Europe” lead to an increase in third quarter profits for ABIB, prompting optimism also for the fourth quarter. And exactly how strong was that performance? How about a 12.5% growth in volumes?!
Now here’s what interests me about all this. I couldn’t care less how Brahma and Antarctica are doing in Brazil, where ABIB controls an astounding 70% of the market, but I am fascinated with how overall volumes are growing in South America in general and Brazil in particular. Because last summer I discovered that there is a relatively small but thriving craft brewing scene in Brazil and elsewhere in the southern American hemisphere, and my sources there tell me that demand for premium beer is growing as fast or faster than they can manage.
Think about it: A still-growing major brewery market feeding off tremendous economic growth, a small but enthusiastic cadre of craft brewers, and growing demand for beers “outside the norm.” Remind you of anything, like North America a few decades ago?
Okay, so the majors in the 1980’s weren’t posting double digit growth, but still, there are parallels. Exactly to what degree I intend to find out later this month when I travel to Sao Paulo and elsewhere to host a few beer dinners, culminating in an all-Brazil beer festival in Blumenau. I’ll let you all know in December.