Belarus offers numerous investment opportunities in the food and drink sector. Its domestic market compares to countries like Greece, Hungary or the Czech Republic, while it also has open access to the 275 million people of the wider CIS.
“Belarusian food-processing companies are desperately in need of investment for reconstruction. Most of these are private companies and are open for participation of foreign capital”
Uniter Investment Agency
However, while consumer expenditure on food has doubled in four years, the sector needs more infrastructure and requires greater consolidation in production, coupled with the creation of a better distribution network.
The drinks sector in Belarus has also grown rapidly in recent years, piquing the interest of many foreign investors.
The beer industry grew 7% in 2008. In 2009 it fell to 5 %. Beer sales per capita in Belarus in 2009 was 46.5 liters compared to 76 liters in Russia, 120 in Germany and 161 liters in Czech Republic. The share of imported beer in 2008 was 26.2% which was 3.5 % higher than in 2007. In 2009 this figure grew 10%.
As a result, Heineken, Coca-Cola and SAB Miller, and smaller brewers such as Olvi, from Finland, have all invested or bought into the Belarusian market to serve growing domestic demand.
Krinitsa and Brestskoe Pivo, the largest and fifth largest brewers in Belarus respectively, were expected to be privatised in 2009.
The soft drinks market is equally commercial, with private operators holding 85% of the market, which grew by over 20% in value in 2008. The largest state-owned soft drink manufacturer, Zavod Veynyanskiy Rodnik, has a 5% market share and is actively seeking foreign investment.