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Anheuser-Busch Introduces Flagship Budweiser Beer in India

India, this Bud's for you.

Anheuser-Busch , the world's largest brewer, introduced an Indian-brewed Budweiser on Friday as part of the company's plan to tap into the country's booming economy, a top official said.

While India is one of the world's largest markets for spirits, it ranks near the bottom among beer guzzling nations.

But Anheuser-Busch sees great potential in the country.

"India has strong and consistent economic growth," said Stephen J. Burrows, chief executive of Anheuser-Busch Asia-Pacific operations. "It represents a major entry point for Anheuser-Busch."

Budweiser, the flagship brand of St. Louis-based Anheuser-Busch, will initially be on sale only in southern and western India.

"The first step is to get the beer established, then we will look at expansion," said Burrows.

India's beer industry posted 20% annual growth for the past two years, up from 10% per year over the past decade. The growth has been fueled by India's growing middle class and its huge population of young people. Roughly 60% of the nation's 1.2 billion are people under the age of 30.

"The emerging strong middle class has historically been good for the beer industry," said Burrows.

The brewer announced a joint venture in February with Crown Beers India to brew, market and distribute Budweiser and other brands in India and set up a new brewery in the southern Indian city of Hyderabad.

With a flat U.S. beer market, Anheuser-Busch has sought overseas growth. It began brewing in China in 1995 and that country's beer market pushed ahead of the U.S. in 2002 as the world's biggest.

Anheuser-Busch has a 27% share in the China brewer Tsingtao Brewery, China's biggest brewer, and a 50% ownership in Grupo Modelo, Mexico's leading beer-maker.

The company faces tough competition in India with Bangalore-based United Breweries, which has a beer market share of about 45% in India, followed by London-based SABMiller with some 36%.

The Crown Group operates businesses in India's agriculture industry through seed production and export businesses. The group also deals with industrial exports and real estate.

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