Falling booze prices keep Diwali spirits high

Updated on Nov 06, 2007 09:48 PM IST

Tipplers can look forward to some sizzling offers this festive season. The nearly $2 billion Indian liquor industry is laying down the red carpet, reports Gaurav Choudhury.

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Hindustan Times | ByGaurav Choudhury, New Delhi

Tipplers can look forward to some sizzling offers this festive season. The nearly $2 billion Indian liquor industry is laying down the red carpet.

Diageo, the world’s leading premium drinks company best known for its Johnnie Walker series, has reduced prices by over Rs 1,000 a bottle ahead of Diwali.

Analysts tracking the liquor industry said the reduction in prices has coincided with the removal of the additional Customs duty on liquor. Prices of luxury spirits have dropped by 20-37 per cent after the tax cuts earlier this year.

Prices of products from the Groupe Pernod Ricard and Seagrams stables, including the popular Chivas Regal, have come down significantly.

“We expect a momentum with the price reduction that has been passed on to consumers, especially with the festival and marriage season kicking in. We are offering incentives on bulk purchases and also providing Johnnie Walker bartenders as an integrated service for marriage parties,” Asif Adil, Managing Director, Diageo India told Hindustan Times.

For the record, India is the largest whisky market, consuming 60 million cases in 2006, overtaking the US with 40 million cases by a fair margin.

The Vijay Mallya-controlled United Spirits Limited is also expanding its vodka offerings in India and plans to introduce the premium Vladivar brand from the stable of the recently acquired Whyte & Mackay. Company executives said with the launch of Vladivar in the mid-price segment, United Spirits was looking at competing with the Diageo’s Smirnoff and Shark Tooth and Fuel from Seagram.

Industry estimates suggest that the current size of the wine market in India is about 700,000 cases with the potential of reaching 2.8 million cases in the next five years.

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