Virtual brewers, Coke liven up premium beer market

Foster’s and Lion Nathan dominate Australia’s beer market. Despite this, booming premium beers sales are creating opportunities for scores of tiny brewers, importers, and sizeable craft brewers.

As well we have two ‘virtual’ brewers in Coles and Woolworths. The sheer scale of their premium beer imports and their direct-to-consumer approach pits them squarely against every brewer and importer in Australia.

While this could mean higher margins, much of the direct-import advantage appears to be competed away, putting a lid on premium beer prices nationally.

And now there’s another formidable player in the premium beer market – Coca-Cola Amatil, under Terry Davis, former head of Cellarmaster Wines and Beringer Blass.

Last August Coke formed a joint venture to distribute SABMiller’s international brands, Miller, Peroni Nastro Azzuro and Pilsen Urquell.

Reports this week say that Coke plans to brew these brands locally and to rate third in size behind Foster’s and Lion Nathan by 2012.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2007

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