WATER AND BEER PREFERRED TO VODKA AND BRANDY
Soft drinks attract more and more fanciers in the summer heat. Sales grew by 15% in the first six months of the year and the quantity drunk reached 493 million litres. Bottled mineral water was the most popular product. It increased its market share by 20%, but since 1995 its expansion has been more than five times. Due to the variety of packings, the mineral water became favourite to many households. Currently, on the Bulgarian market there are 42 trademarks of bottled water. Most preferred are the products of Gorna Banya, Bulminvex GB EOOD, Bankya Mineral Waters OOD, Devin AD, Agrima AD, GV OOD, DLA BK AD, Crystal Water OOD, etc.Fizzy drinks attracted 10% more customers than they did last year, which means 20 million litres more sold on the market. Coca-Cola and the other aerated fruit-flavoured drinks remained the most preferred among them. Although fizzy drinks consumption increases with half the pace of the mineral water one, they remain leaders in terms of sales and dominate on a market share larger by 6 per cent. However, the distance will be cut short significantly in the coming years. Producers of soft drinks expect that mineral water and fizzy drinks take equal parts of the market in 2007.The lowest growth, just 2%, was reported by non-fizzy fruit-containing drinks. Natural juices and nectars enjoy a growing popularity and keep on attracting consumers who increased their purchases by 2 million litres. The more comfortable glass bottles have the biggest contribution. Consumers are also attracted by the variety of packings. Long-year leaders on this market are Capy by Coca-Cola, Prisun by Agrima AD, BBB by Link AD, Florina by the eponymous producer, Queens by Litex Juice OOD and Ganchev, which all hold over 90% of the market.If Bulgarians go on spending the same amount for soft drinks, sales will exceed 1 billion litres at the end of the year. Should forecasts come true, the consumption will reach 134 litres per capita (compared to 117 litres a year ago).More than 750 kinds of soft drinks are offered in Bulgaria at present. They occupy 55% of the whole market of drinks. Leaders in this sector are Coca-Cola and Pepsi-Cola, followed by the Bulgarian producers Gorna Banya, Radulov ET, Ecobottles OOD, Assen Dolev Commercial ET, Aspasia OOD, ESAT, etc.Beer, too, attracted more fanciers and sales grew by 10% in the first half of the year. During that period Bulgarians have drunk 2.3 million hectolitres, compared to 2.1 million hectolitres in the same period of 2003.According to brewers, the growth is due to the Bulgarians' thickened wallet in the last few months. Zagorka Executive Director Dimitar Alexiev sees as another reason the changed drinking and eating habits in the country. That is why competition on the expanding beer market is furious. Zagorka AD remains the leader (its portfolio includes several trademarks - Zagorka, Ariana, Amstel, Stolicho Pivo, and Gold) with a 32% market share for the first six months and sales of 734,000 hectolitres. By April, the company owned by the Greek Brewinvest controlled 34 per cent. In June, the second place is occupied by Kamenitza AD which is owned by the Belgian Interbrew (producing trademarks such as Kamenitza, Astika, Burgasko Pivo, Pleven, Slavena, Stella Artois, and Beck's) with a 27% share of the market. Compared to the first quarter of the year, Interbrew has ceded 3% of its share, too. The leaders are followed by Bulbrew which produces Ledenika, MM and Varnensko Pivo. Fourth comes Carlsberg - owner of the plants Pirinsko Pivo and Shumensko Pivo which are about to merge in August. Their total share is equal to that in April - 17 per cent. Still on the top is Bolyarka BT which became famous as one of the most stable players in the branch in the past few years. The company is not ceding its fifth position and is leaving behind Lomsko Pivo and Sofia Brewery.Even though the ranking of breweries suffered no significant changes in the past months, competition for every single consumer remains harsh. Aggressive advertising campaigns were among the strong weapons in use. In the fight for a bigger market share, some of the players violated the law and were sanctioned. The most recent example was a BGN150,000 fine that the Commission on Protection of Competition imposed on Zagorka. The sanction was confirmed by a three-member committee of the Supreme Administrative Court. The reason was an advertising game that promised prizes much more expensive than the product itself. This type of games has become a preferred method to attract customers in the food industry lately. Currently, there are 52 beer trademarks offered in the country. The newest among them are the world known Tuborg, Amstel and Beck's. After the branch was privatized in 1998, more than BGN259MN have been invested in it. BGN12MN were put in the first five months of 2004 alone. This amount helped Zagorka AD open a new brewery unit worth EUR2MN.There are thirteen plants operating in the brewing industry at present. Eight of them produce malt as well. Some 3,300 people are employed in the branch and other 16,000 work in attendant companies.Beer producers expect the consumption of their product to reach 58-60 litres per capita, compared to 55 litres a year earlier. Even if that happens, the capacity of the branch will not be utilized completely. It only uses 65% of it now. The future of Bulgarian trademarks lie in the export, experts say.According to a national research conducted by Market Test, people between 18 and 24 years prefer to drink Amstel, regardless of what their job and sex is. Older people like Zagorka, Ariana, and Ledenika better. Men remain more trustful to the beer than women do. Yet, Kamenitza and Ariana are the brands most preferred at home.