Dual positives: AB InBev’s super-mild beer in India to boost low-and-no alcohol portfolio while adapting to local regulations

By Pearly Neo

- Last updated on GMT

Multinational beer brewer AB InBev says the launch of a new super-mild beer in India will have dual positive impacts for the company. ©AB InBev India
Multinational beer brewer AB InBev says the launch of a new super-mild beer in India will have dual positive impacts for the company. ©AB InBev India

Related tags Ab inbev Beer Low-to-no alcohol

Multinational beer brewer AB InBev says the launch of a new super-mild beer in India will have dual positive impacts for the company: To both boost its low-and-no alcohol portfolio, while simultaneously adapting to local regulations.

The firm’s latest product is the Beck’s Ice Premium Lager, which is a ‘super mild’ beer containing less than 3.5% ABV, which is the industry’s first ever super mild beer according to the firm.

“With the introduction of Beck’s Ice Premium Lager, [we want to ] offer consumers the same smooth, refreshing taste of 100% pure malt beer [that Beck’s always has] with its low bitterness to consumers who prefer lower alcohol strength beer,”​ AB InBev President – South Asia Kartikeya Sharma told FoodNavigator-Asia​.

“This introduction also further cements AB InBev’s Smart Drinking Goal to ensure that low and no-alcohol beers make up at least 20% of our global beer volume by 2025 thus, empowering consumers through choice to enjoy beer freely and responsibly.”

This low- and no-alcohol portfolio goal is Goal 3 amongst AB InBev’s list of four global Smart Drinking Goals, with the firm stating that providing more of such option is an ‘important way to help reduce harmful drinking’​.

“Our ambition is for existing drinkers to integrate no-alcohol beers and beer with 3.5% ABV or lower into their current drink choices, reducing their overall total alcohol intake,”​ said the firm.

The other four Smart Drinking Goals include reducing the harmful use of alcohol, investing US$1bn globally to influence social norms and behaviours to reduce harmful alcohol use, and placing guidance labels on products as well as increasing alcohol health literacy.

In addition, Sharma told us that there is an additional positive from this launch which is to enable the firm to make the most out of local excise policies.

In April 2020, the state of Haryana in India (where Beck’s Ice Premium Lager will first be launched) introduced a new excise policy in an attempt to encourage consumers to choose lower-alcohol options.

The tax on regular beer (3.5% ABV and  above) is INR50 (US$0.68) per bulk litre and on ‘super mild’ beers below 3.5% ABV will be INR35 (US$0.48) per bulk litre. Liquors are seeing higher taxes, such as local country-made liquor at INR60 (US$0.82) per bulk litre.

The Haryana Excise Department unveiled a salient ‘super mild beer’ category with a fixed excise duty, taking into consideration the alcohol by volume content in its new forward-thinking alcohol policy. We worked closely with the Haryana government to launch Beck’s Ice Premium Lager with 3.5% ABV,”​ said Sharma.

“The new excise policy provides a significant impetus to low-alcohol content beverages such as [super mild] beer, increasing their availability and affordability which ultimately benefit the consumers. This is a step in the right direction and ensures consumers have access to low-alcohol alternatives that is affordable and can move away from products that are detrimental to their health.

“We commend the Haryana government’s move and hope more states follow suit to introduce reforms that are reflective of a developing society and facilitate moderation in our drinking behaviour.”

Beck’s in India

The regular version of Beck’s Ice has roughly 8% ABV, meaning that AB InBev brought down the alcohol content by a whopping 4.5% to make this super mild version work.

When asked why the firm chose to initiate the super mild category with Beck’s as opposed to other brands in its portfolio, Sharma told us that this was due the appeal of the brand to consumers, especially younger consumers.

“[The brand is known for its] less bitter, incredibly smooth liquid with no aftertaste coupled with a clear flint bottle, metallic labels and a ring-pull which increases consumer convenience – [it has] built a strong resonance with younger consumers by [appealing to] attributes such as friendships, camaraderie and encouraging [them] to relax and rejuvenate with friends,”​ he said.

“This launch [will also help us to] address the evolving preferences of consumers and offer them a choice of a lower strength alcohol beverage.

“We are constantly looking for white spaces to develop new products as per different market requirements and consumer needs. [After] the overwhelming response we have received for Beck’s Ice Premium Lager (3.5% ABV) in Haryana, [we] look forward to expanding the category further in India.”

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