Mumbai: French firm Pernod Ricard said consumer confidence in India is at an all-time high, despite inflation. The second largest distiller expanded its Indian business by 21% in the last quarter.

“India, which is obviously a key market for us, one of our must-win markets, is performing extremely strongly in this first half, with the continued premiumisation trend,” Pernod Ricard’s finance head Helene de Tissot said at an investor call. “The environment in India is very strong, and consumer confidence is increasing. It’s probably at an all-time high, despite inflation. And we continue to benefit from favourable long-term demographics with the continuing growth of upper and middle class and as well the urbanisation.”

Rival United Spirits saw its prestige-and-above category, where it competes with Pernod, increase 23%, which analysts feel could have been better but for the company restricting Scotch whisky supplies to a few states to press for price hikes.

India is Pernod Ricard’s largest market by volume and third biggest contributor to sales and profit globally. In India, the French company sold spirits worth ₹4.1 billion in 2021, according to IWSR data. Pernod Ricard controls about a fourth of the overall whisky market in India despite negligible presence in the mass segment and gets a significant chunk from premium and semi-premium brands, mainly Blenders Pride, Royal Stag and Imperial Blue.

Despite India being the largest whiskey-drinking nation globally in terms of volume, the share of Scotch is just 2% due to 150% duty on imported liquor. The UK and India are in talks for a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA). The maker of Absolut vodka and Chivas Regal Scotch said India is becoming one of the world’s largest whiskey markets by value and it strongly supports negotiations between UK and India to get high-quality free-trade agreements.

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Last month, Pernod’s India head Thibault Cuny stepped down from his role due to health reasons, exiting at a time the company is fighting tax and legal battles.

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