Future-proofing beer: Value-oriented and alcohol-free brands enter spotlight for Carlsberg
In the wake of various challenges faced during the COVID-19 pandemic, Carlsberg Malaysia made a commendable recovery to achieve a record year financially in FY2022, as evidenced by its 36.1% growth in revenue to RM2.4bn (US$540.8mn) in FY2022 from RM1.8bn (US$405.6mn) in FY2021; as well as 57.7% growth in net profits to RM317mn (US$71.4mn) this year from RM201mn (US$45.3mn) last year.
Of note was a return to growth for the company’s mainstream category comprising its more mass-facing brands such as the conventional Carlsberg, which had been seeing a slew of downturns since the pandemic hit back in 2020, driving the company to place a lot more focus on its premiumisation strategy over the past few years.
Given this return in growth, the firm has highlighted that it will continue support and investment for its affordable value-oriented brands such as Carlsberg and SKOL.
“We want to make it clear that although premiumisation is a very important strategy for us, we will always continue to support the affordable product category with products such as Carlsberg and SKOL,” Carlsberg Malaysia Managing Director Stefano Clini said in response to queries from FoodNavigator-Asia at the company’s post-AGM press event.
“SKOL in particular has just undergone a major rebranding, although the taste and brew has remained the same as most consumers have highlighted that this is considered a superior brew.
“SKOL was introduced as a value option and also one for consumers that have a bit less disposable income [for premium options] – the idea is to establish a variety of options for the consumers and allow them to decide what they want or need.
“At this stage it is hard to see exactly how the consumer trends an purchasing preferences are likely to change, so we must take care not to be blind to and to cater to all possible consumer needs.”
Another major area of new focus for the firm is in alcohol-free beverages, with the company already having launched both the Carlsberg alcohol-free range and Somerby 0.0 variant.
When queried on the company’s plans for this category moving forward, Clini clarified that for the near future the idea is not to bank on this to turn profits, but more to future-proof the company’s portfolio.
“To be very clear, if we were looking solely at profitability, it would be very unlikely that we would have even launched the alcohol-free products here in Malaysia [as the] consumer base is really very low,” he told us.
“But globally, the key brand for us for this area is really Somersby, and here in Malaysia I would say we are already ready with Somersby 0.0 and there are more products to come as well.
“Although I cannot disclose exact numbers, Somersby 0.0 is something like 10x bigger than Heineken 0.0 in this market currently, but it is still a very tiny segment with a minimal role in tems of profit hence of no interest for short-term money – it is more of a long-term commitment to our ESG agenda, and to offer more healthier alternatives to our consumers in the long-run.
“The future-proofing aspect is very real too - as consumers and health trends evolve, one day it may be possible for this category to take over, just as in the EU some 30% of the market is filled with this category, and if/when this happens for this region we need to be there and to be 10x bigger than our competitors.”
Other than portfolio preparations, the company is also actively preparing to future-proof its operations with a new RM108 min CAPEX investment in the development of a new facility.
“The whole idea for this investment is to future-proof our business via the areas of improving efficiency, expanding flexibility for more new products and innovation, and further improving product quality,” Clini added.
“This investment will also ensure we have the capacity for more future growth and help us to improve our environmental footprint e.g. reduce our carbon footprint and water consumption in line with our ESG commitments.”
Carlsberg Malaysia has committed to zero carbon footprint, zero water waste, zero farming footprint, zero packaging waste, zero irresponsible drinking and zero accidents culture targets to be achieved by 2040.