As from 2019 the government granted permission for local beer to be sold in all outlets (retail, consumer foodservice and hotels etc) without requiring a special licence or permission. Domestic brands already dominated sales and therefore this was big news.
Dark beer – which includes weissbier/weizen/wheat beer and ale – was the only category to see growth in off-trade volume terms in 2020, albeit with sales being relatively low. Ale is produced by several domestic breweries and is therefore available to a wide range of consumers.
COVID-19 has also taken its toll on the local economy with job losses seen and many households seeing reduced disposable income. As such, even through the off-trade many consumers were forced to cut back on their beer consumption, which was reflected in a decline in total volume sales.
Prior to the outbreak of COVID-19 demand for off-trade domestic premium lager had been rising particularly strongly, in line with increasing disposable incomes. Brands such as Tuborg and Baltika were growing in popularity, with these brands being produced locally under European standards, offering a better quality and taste than cheaper alternatives.
Two factors will be crucial in the recovery of beer sales in Uzbekistan: Firstly, the lifting of restrictions and the reopening of on-trade and off-trade outlets will be key in making beer widely accessible again. The ability to socialise freely and in larger groups is attached to the on-trade, with weddings, birthday parties and other celebrations disrupted in 2020 by COVID-19.
To help combat the illegal production of beer, the government implemented a digital labelling system for beer products in 2021. Uzbekistan is the first country in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) to launch a mandatory labelling system.
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This report originates from Passport, our Beer research and analysis database.
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