Monday, July 15, 2024

World of Brands set to launch craft beer brand in Karnataka

AlcoBev startup World of Brands (WoB) looks to expand its domestic market presence and manufacturing set-up as it launches its ready-to-drink craft beer brand in Karnataka in July. The company recently also tied up with a contract manufacturing unit in Mudhol, a small town in North Karnataka.

“This is the third manufacturing plant we have tied up with. We just finished blending our first round of craft beers for launch in Karnataka. The Mudhol plant will exclusively supply our craft beers to our Karnataka market for now,” Founder and CEO, Gurpreet Singh, told businessline.

Under Disco Panda, a brand of strong craft beers, is Hoppy Magic with 15 percent alcohol content. Pilsen Punch, another product under the same brand, has 12 per cent alcohol. Disco Panda was launched last year and is sold in seven Indian markets – Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Goa, Kerala, and Puducherry.

“We got our master brewer – Alok K Basu – on board to create a product to suit the taste of an Indian beer consumer. We re-engineered the base product and the taste profile. Beer consumers who do not generally prefer the stronger category have also accepted our products,” said the CEO, formerly the marketing head of United Breweries.

Commenting on the beer consumption patterns in India, Gupreet noted that 85-90 per cent of consumers do not prefer mild beer with an average alcohol by volume (ABV) of around 8 per cent.

“None of the large MNCs, regional players, or startups have done any innovation in this space. Everybody in the beer or RTD segment is talking to consumers who prefer an ABV of either 5 per cent or, at most, 8 per cent. We found a window of opportunity by acknowledging Indian beer consumers who, over the last 20 years, specifically expressed their preference towards strong beer,” he added.

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According to Gurpreet, strong beer consumers in India have repeatedly demanded stronger beer products with more alcohol content.

“Our consumers say they’ll temporarily forgo the taste for a product which will give them better value for money. But at the same time, they will only convert to a strong beer drinker when they like how it tastes. We came into this space with our understanding of the need gap, the opportunity, and the world of beer.”

In April this year, WoB launched fruit-flavored beers under the Disco Panda umbrella in Uttar Pradesh. Among the craft beers are Mango Tango with an ABV of 9 per cent, Paan Supari with 12 per cent, and Orange Burst with 15 percent.

“We are currently experimenting with this product across UP, and studying consumer response at scale. Based on their feedback we may tweak the product or introduce new flavors. There has been little experimentation with mango-based drinks in the beer space. You may find something similar in some microbreweries, but not in a bottled format available on a mass scale,” said the founder.

The AlcoBev startup initially launched its category of gins, the ‘Great Indian Gin’ in 2022. While the bulk of its distribution comes from its retail presence, the founder mentioned plans to expand the brand’s on-premise presence.

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The gin, a fusion craft product, is manufactured in a plant outside of Bangalore near Hoskote. The unit was formerly used by Diageo as a strategic partner.

“We entered into a contract with this third-party unit because Diageo no longer had an exclusive arrangement with them. We got a ready, state-of-the-art plant with systems and processes well entrenched to make our gin,” he said.

The Great Indian Gin is currently available in Karnataka, Puducherry, and Telangana. The product, currently available in three flavours including orange and green apple, will debut in the Karnataka market with a redesigned packaging in the coming week.

Mentioning plans of foraying into different spirits segments and plans of exporting, Gurpreet added that the company hopes to become EBITDA-positive by the second half of FY25.

Following the July launches in Karnataka, WoB seeks to achieve EBITDA positivity by September and PAT positivity by the end of the financial year.

“We picked up equity through friends & family, and personal HNI networks. Between debt and equity, we have raised about ₹20-21 crores over the 2.5 years of our revenue operations,” said the CEO, adding the company will initiate conversations with venture capitalists once it has cash on its books.

WoB manufactures its products across three facilities. The Hoskote unit manufactures the company’s gin line which is sold to four states from there. Disco Panda’s first contract was with an independent third-party manufacturing unit in Goa.

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