The Netherlands-based Heineken N.V. -the world’s second largest brewing company, with over 165 breweries in 70 countries (including California’s Lagunitas Brewing Co.)- is seeking to expand its share in Peru’s beer market.
In late September Heineken closed the purchase -for an undisclosed amount, but said to be around US$50M- of the Tres Cruces brand from the AJE Group. AJE is a beverage company, started in Ayacucho by the Añaños family, with operations in 22 countries. Tres Cruces was its incursion into the Peruvian beer market. Under the partnership, AJE will serve as Heineken’s national distributor.
Although Tres Cruces’ share of the national beer market amounted to only 0.1%, with the purchase Heineken has gained a foothold in the only large regional market in which it did not have a direct presence.
However, according to rumors, verified by articles in the business-oriented Lima newspaper Gestión, Heineken has also set its sights on purchasing Lima’s largest independent brewery, Candelaria. Representatives for Candelaria have confirmed that they have been approached by Heineken and there have been conversations.
Coupled with last year’s purchase of Cervecería Barbarian by AB-Inbev’s ZX Ventures, any such sale of Candelaria would have the effect of having removed the top two breweries in the craft sector. This is important, not just because they were the largest, but also because they were leaders in opening spaces for craft beer in supermarket coolers and shelves.
Some observers, even within the craft brew community, hail such sales, predicting that they will increase competition and thus lead to a raise in quality within the craft beer sector. Others point to the exclusionary and anti-competitive practices of AB-Inbev and its local conglomerate, Backus.
Needless to say, Peruvian craft brewers are watching the situation with attention.