AN increase in the consumption of beer by a more affluent population in India is part of what makes the country an attractive alternative market for Australian malt barley.
In 2017 and 2018 India produced about 3.2 billion litres of beer per year, making up about 25 per cent of the alcohol industry.
The population of the country is about 1.7 billion people in India, but only just over 200 million of those can afford to drink beer and of that 200m, there are only 22m who can afford to drink premium beer.
Speaking via video link at the Grain Industry Association of Western Australia's (GIWA) 2020 Barley Forum on Monday, Australian Export Grains Innovation Centre (AEGIC) barley technical manager Mary Raynes said there were more than 140 beer brands in India.
"Each State pretty much has its own brewery, primarily because out of the 25 States and seven Territories, they're all individually governed.
"Beer is highly taxed and with COVID-19 the tax on beer imports and exports went up around 25pc.
"The beer in India is marked as a strong beer, meaning it's higher in alcohol content, about six to eight per cent and it has a pretty low bitterness unit, around 10 to 15, whereas our Crown Lager is around 21."
The craft beer industry in the country is booming, predominantly in the major cities, with the likes of Bangalore looking to open 40 pub breweries between June and December in 2019, on top of 140 they already have.
By 2030, 20pc of the Indian population will be under the age of 25 years who are more likely to be well educated, sophisticated and require higher standards of living.
It is that age demographic that will be Australia's target market for beer consumption in India.
Ms Raynes said that age range would have a big impact on beer consumption, with the expectation it will increase by 5.6b litres which is enough to fill the Melbourne Cricket Ground, Victoria, 3.13 times.
"The demand for quality beer is going to increase and that will come from the increase in affluence and the rise in acceptance of social drinking," she said.
"Women drinking beer in bars in India is a new phenomenon which is only about four to five years old and you would not have seen that in the past, so that will increase alongside general bar culture by 2030."
In order to capitalise on the growing consumption, more work needs to be done by Australia to increase our market presence and relationship in India.
"We need to continue to work on regulatory issues, which the supply chain here in Australia is doing, and we need to work with the Indian government on fumigation of weeds and glyphosate," Ms Raynes said.
"We need to deliver barley that meets our customers requirements so it is residue free and we also need to protect our origin of barley and supply accredited malting barley."