Baltika Gets License to Brew Asahi Beer

BloombergAsahi, whose Super Dry is the Japanese beer market leader, will become the fifth foreign beer produced by Baltika.
Baltika Breweries has agreed to make and sell Japanese brewery Asahi's beer in Russia as rising incomes enable more drinkers to afford foreign brands.

A licensing agreement through 2012 has been signed, Baltika said Thursday in a statement. It will start brewing the Japanese brewer's flagship Super Dry beer next month and will sell it in Russia and former Soviet Union.

Russian sales of Kronenbourg lager, licensed from Scottish & Newcastle, more than doubled in 2007, and purchases of Carlsberg's Tuborg beer, Russia's best-selling foreign brand, gained 70 percent, Baltika said last month.

"Super Dry will grow at a quick pace, significantly outstripping the rate of growth of the licensed segment as a whole" this year, Baltika president Anton Artemyev said in the statement.

Asahi, whose Super Dry is the Japanese beer-market leader, is expanding sales of food and soft drinks as beer consumption weakens at home.

Russia will become the sixth country where Asahi beer is produced under license. The company's Russian sales totaled 1.9 million liters (16,000 barrels) in 2007. Baltika aims to boost Asahi sales "by several times" in western Russia, the source of just one-seventh of Asahi's total sales in the country last year, Artemyev said in a conference call.

Sales growth for licensed beers in Russia will continue to "noticeably" outpace the local market, which is forecast to expand from 3 percent to 5 percent in the medium term, he said.

Asahi will become the fifth foreign beer produced by Baltika, which now makes Tuborg, Kronenbourg, Carlsberg and Foster's. The company "is open for other possibilities" in producing licensed beer and has been working on new agreements, Artemyev said.