NEW YORK--()--Rabobank has published a new research report on the changing competitive landscape in the global brewing sector, where consolidation among the major brewers combined with the economic downturn may present new challenges for local brewers.
“Despite considerable M&A activities, the brewing giants have not seen an acceleration in volume growth because their increased economies of scale have not been passed on to consumers. However, the giants have improved their margins at a faster rate than the beer market in general”
In the report authored by Rabobank’s global Food & Agribusiness Research and Advisory report looks at the consolidation process which the global brewing sector has experienced over the past decade, and says that recent activity suggests that this process is continuing. Rabobank’s research shows that as the top four brewers grew through acquisitions, many of the smaller local brewers stood on the side lines and are now finding themselves competing with global giants, rather than with other local niche players.
Until recently, local brewers have been able to stand their ground, but bank analysts say there is no guarantee this will remain the case. As the economic crisis is causing unprecedented volume declines in mature markets, Rabobank says, local brewers are about to find out whether they can maintain their position or whether they need to adapt to a changing playing field.
Rabobank’s report points out that the brewing sector has seen a lot of M&A activity in recent years. The leading four brewers – AB Inbev, SABMiller, Heineken and Carlsberg – which had a market share of just 16% in 2001, today account for nearly half the global beer volume. As a result, many local brewers are now facing competition from these brewing ‘giants’ rather than from other local players.
The brewing giants have undertaken M&A programs to increase their scale by entering new markets, or adding differentiating products to their portfolio. The local brewers’ market share has remained fairly stable over time, with local brewers selling 100 billion litres and having a 53 percent market share in 2011 (2001:56 percent), meaning that – organically – local local brewers have not lost significant market share to acquisitive giants.
“Despite considerable M&A activities, the brewing giants have not seen an acceleration in volume growth because their increased economies of scale have not been passed on to consumers. However, the giants have improved their margins at a faster rate than the beer market in general,” says Rabobank analyst Francois Sonneville. “Our research indicates that in 2011, local brewers made up just 25 percent of the profit pool, declining from a 45 percent share in 2002. Brewing giants have been able to increase their share of profits through efficiency gains and implementation of a premiumization strategy in emerging markets where premium beer brands are more profitable.”
In absolute terms, Rabobank says, local brewers have also benefited from the growth of the profit pool as their operating profits have increased over the years. This should give local brewers some peace of mind at a time when mature market conditions are deteriorating, bank analysts say, driven by the recession and reductions in disposable income.
However, it is no guarantee for the future because the giants might decide to change their strategy and focus on volume rather than profit. In order to compete, Rabobank advises local brewers to evaluate their cost structure and consider alternatives, such as joint purchasing or co-manufacturing, which could give them greater economies of scale.
The Rabobank report on the changing landscape in the global brewing industry is available to media upon request.
Rabobank Group is a global financial services leader providing wholesale and retail banking, asset management, leasing, real estate services, and renewable energy project financing. Founded over a century ago, Rabobank is one of the largest banks in the world, with nearly $1 trillion in assets and operations in more than 40 countries. In North America, Rabobank is a premier bank to the food, beverage and agribusiness industry. Rabobank’s Food & Agribusiness Research and Advisory team is comprised of more than 80 analysts around the world who provide expert analysis, insight and counsel to Rabobank clients about trends, issues and developments in all sectors of agriculture. wwww.rabobank.com/f&a
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