Billimoria wants Bihar farmers to produce barley as he brews beer | business | Hindustan Times
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Billimoria wants Bihar farmers to produce barley as he brews beer

business Updated: Feb 21, 2012 00:22 IST
Ruchir Kumar

UK's India-born beer baron Lord Karan Bilimoria, who brought his Cobra Beer to India and set up a $35-million production facility at Bihta near here, has urged the state to encourage farmers to produce quality barley and promised to buy up their entire produce if it is upto the mark.

"We (now) have to get all our barley from Haryana because in Bihar barley grown is not of (high) quality," said Bilimoria. "In beer, 75% ingredient is malted barley. It is unfortunate Bihar has only one brewery. If neighbouring Orissa can have five, why not 10 in Bihar?"

Bilimoria indicated that if farmers produce quality barley, Cobra Beer would take up the entire produce, which would directly benefit the farmers. "The state needs to develop a critical mass to make malt so as to encourage other beverage firms set up breweries in the state," he said.

The joint venture of Molson Coors and Cobra Beer began production on February 15 after upgrading and expanding the brewery to double its capacity to four million cases a year.

The company produces three brands - Iceberg, King Cobra and Cobra. Molson Coors Cobra India bought out Iceberg Industries last July and took over its brewery.

Cobra Beers UK, which was going through financial problems, turned profitable last fiscal after 20 years with £4.9 million (Rs 3,821 crore) profits on sales of £48 million (Rs 37,435 crore).

The beer market in Bihar has grown approximately 10 times from annual sales of seven lakh cases to 70 lakh cases since November 2005, when Nitish Kumar took charge of the state. The state exchequer stands to earn Rs 50-60 crore per annum by way of excise and sales taxes from Cobra Beer.