International drinks manufacturers have been prime movers into Belarus. Here are two examples:
Heineken has made significant investments in Belarus in the past few years to take advantage of the rapidly growing consumer market in the republic.
The brewing giant purchased Belarus’s second biggest brewery, Syabar, in late 2007 and followed it up in 2008 with a majority stake in the Rechitsapivo brewery.
By 2009, Heineken held 15% of the domestic and international beer market in Belarus, and had plans to target the market on imported beers. Belarus allowed Heineken to fill a gap in its coverage of Eastern Europe while gaining ‘first mover’ advantage among international beer companies in the republic.
So far it has concentrated on selling local brands, but has plans to introduce more sophisticated blends. To achieve this, the company has already been investing in its supply chain, including distributing its preferred variety of seed to local farms.
Henk van Gelderen, general manager of Heineken Belarus, said: “We invested in the Belarusian market because of the fast growth in beer consumption. “The acquisition of the two breweries gave us a good platform for development of local and international brands.”
Coca-Cola Hellenic was a pioneer foreign investor in Belarus, first licencing a local manufacturer in 1994 and then setting up its own production facilities in 1997. Its original US $42 million investment was the first green-field development in Belarus by a foreign investor.
Today, after almost US $120m of investment, Coca-Cola Hellenic has four production lines in Belarus producing Coca-Cola, Fanta, Sprite, Schweppes, local brand Fruktime, Bonaqua water and importing energy drinks, juices and ice tea. In the Summer and over Christmas, the lines run 24 hours a day and it employs 550 people in its manufacturing headquarters and across its nationwide sales, warehouse and distribution network
Because of its early entry to the market, Coca-Cola Hellenic now has approximately 25% of the rapidly-growing soft drinks market in Belarus. Over the past decade the business’s volume has grown ten-fold and Coca-Cola Hellenic in Belarus turned over €60 million in 2008.
Coca-Cola Hellenic also plays an active role in helping the government improve the business climate in Belarus through its founding membership of the Foreign Investment Advisory Council. Successes include persuading the government to streamline administrative procedures and both simplify and cut the tax burden on business.