Following the 2008 crisis, for a long period of time Russian production of beer was declining. However, for the first time in 10 years, minimal growth was recorded in 2017, output having increased to 746 million liters from 728 million liters in 2016. For comparison, output volume in 2007 equaled 1,147 million liters. Given that the shares of imports and exports are low, it is reasonable to assume that the market is demonstrating minimal market size growth while undergoing a stage of recession.
Up until 2014, the volume of beer consumption had been exceeding production; however, later the situation shifted, and overall demand for beer began to decrease. The latter was due to the ruble exchange rate having dropped (which resulted in a decline in beer keg supplies, among other things) and the reduced purchasing power of households, which led to consumers starting to abandon beer in favor of other alcoholic beverages, in particular hard liquors. In addition, legislative restrictions on production and sales of beer in large containers as well as elevated cross-category competition (above all, with low-alcohol beverages) played an important role in the process as well.
The positive dynamics of beer output and consumption, which have taken place in the past 2 years, can be explained by Russia having hosted the FIFA World Cup in June 2018 as well as the temporary liberating tweaks related to beer advertising and promotion implemented in connection with it.
We have analyzed the state of the Russian beer market in terms of imports and exports, and below is the summary of the results.
Beer ranks third in the “soft and alcoholic beverages” category in terms of the share of imports into the Russian Federation. The total volume of imports within the category throughout 2013–2018 amounted to $ 835 million, or 971 million liters. The volume of beer imports was steadily declining from 2013 to 2015: during the time period in question, it dropped by 45.9 and 56.2% respectively in value and volume terms. Afterwards, the situation regarding imports improved somewhat: in 2017, imports almost recovered to the level of 2014, whereas in the first 5 months of 2018 they virtually reached the annual volume for 2015.
Growth in beer imports falls on the summer months, followed by a decline connected with the seasonality of beer consumption as well as other specifics of the industry. 54% growth in imports in the first months of 2018 against the similar period of 2017 was caused by both the preparations for the World Cup, and the overall growing trend in imported beer consumption due to the lower price difference between domestic and imported beer on store shelves, achieved, in particular, through marketing activities by foreign manufacturers.
For many years, the main countries importing beer into Russia have been Germany (in 2017, its share equaled 33.7%, whereas in January–May 2018 it reached 36.5%), Czech Republic (12.4 and 14.5% respectively), and Belgium (10.9 and 10.4% respectively). In 2017, Germany had its turnover grow almost twofold ($ 35.9 million in 2016, and $ 63 million in 2017), whereas Czech Republic increased its turnover by a factor of 1.5 ($ 16.3 million in 2016, and $ 23.2 million in 2017). At the same time, prices per liter of beer imported did not change significantly.
It should be noted that in 2013, the share of beer imports from China equaled 1.4% ($ 3 million) and the country ranked 11th in the list of supplying countries; in 2017, its share increased to 1.8% ($ 3.3 million) and China reached rank 9. Following the annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation, in 2014–2015 Ukraine stopped importing beer into Russia.
As has been noted above, the share of imports in the beer market is low, and the volume of consumption is mainly covered by domestic production.
The volume of exports has been fairly stable and has remained virtually unaffected by the crisis and sanctions. A surge in exports occurred in 2016, caused by an increase in beer supplies to Ukraine in early 2016, despite the embargo. In 2017, the volume of supplies to this country returned to the level of 2015. A drop in prices for Russian beer supplied abroad also had an effect.
Belarus, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan are the main consumers of Russian beer; just like in a number of other markets, countries of the former USSR are the leaders.
Average beer price dynamics can be seen in Table 4. Along with numerous other markets, the beer market in Russia was affected by the crisis, which led to price growth in 2014–2015 under the influence of increased raw material costs and currency exchange rates.
Despite the Russian beer market being on the decline, it has been gradually recovering from the crisis, which led to significant reduction in consumption. Given the warm summer this year as well as FIFA 2018 having taken place, one may expect the beer market to demonstrate slight growth of 5–10% against 2017 in 2018. However, at the moment there are no preconditions for significant growth in consumption in the market.
Key Project Manager
Research Company “Laboratoriya Trendov”