It recently received funding of USD$10m Japan’s MUFG bank and USD$70m from brewery giant Kirin, which will be channelled towards expanding its production capacity and distribution networks domestically and globally.
Its founder and CEO, Ankur Jain, said that its partnership with Kirin extends beyond funding to capitalise on Kirin’s industry expertise to both “premiumize Indian beer through innovation” and “drive sustainability in the industry.”
On the sustainability agenda, it has been working with Kirin for the last 18months to localise its manufacturing and innovation, as it aims to become India’s first net zero beer brand by 2025. It recently established the B9-Kirin Centre for Sustainable Growth in New Delhi and a net zero brewery in Mysuru.
Since 2019, the company reported a six-fold increase in its production capacity. It recently acquired a new manufacturing facility in Uttar Pradesh that will commence operations in 2024.
Additionally, it is headlining partnerships within India’s most popular sport – cricket, launching limited-edition beers and merchandise during Indian Premier League (IPL).
Its taprooms located at Koramangala, and Bangalore International Airport have become crucial as “testing grounds for intel on market trends and offering tasting opportunities.”
Jain highlighted a slew of Bira 91’s product innovations were guided by a growing demand for healthier beverage options; the rising interest in craft and artisanal products; and the importance of sustainability in today’s market.
When it comes to healthier beverage innovation, its NPD is targeted at low to no alcohol alternatives, and the use of natural and seasonal ingredients in the products.
Some of its low-calorie products include Bira 91 light lager with less than 80 calories, Hill Station Cider and Grizly Seltzer.
Products that use natural ingredients include RISE, a premium rice lager using local rice from India; and its Hill Station Hard Cider Ales made with Himalayan apples and mountain barley.
The latter also marks its entry into a new product category: “The launch is part of company’s move to bring new categories beyond beers, in congruence with increasing demand for ready-to-drink options and a growing generation of consumers enthusiastic about experimenting with new flavors. These new products offer a premium drinking experience and pave the way for Bira 91 to enter new and innovative beer-adjacent categories.”
FoodNavigator-Asia recently published an in-depth analytical piece on alcohol flavour innovation.
Bira 91’s distribution currently spans 18 countries globally, and its goal is to expand to 25 countries by the end of 2023.