Recent household data suggest there has been resurgence in consumer spending in Belarus on the back of falling prices of goods and services and rising average wages. We expect 2013 to be more positive than last year, especially as export demand is also expected to recover. Moreover, inflation is likely to trend lower, although upside risks to this forecast remain owing to factors such as cuts to the refinancing rate and the weakness of the local currency, which has made imported items very expensive.
Headline Industry Data (local currency):
- 2013 food consumption value growth = +21.10% year-on-year (y-o-y); forecast compound annual growth rate (CAGR) to 2017 = +14.85%
- 2013 per capita food consumption value growth = +21.48% y-o-y; forecast CAGR to 2017 = +15.21%
- 2013 alcoholic drinks value sales growth = +25.01% y-o-y; forecast CAGR to 2017 = +13.62%
- 2013 soft drinks value sales growth = +20.97% y-o-y; forecast CAGR to 2017 = +12.39%
Key Company Trends
President Calls For A More Competitive Belcoopsoyuz: In February 2013, Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko was reported by BelTA to be calling for a more competitive Belcoopsoyuz, the Union of Consumer Cooperatives, which deals in procurement and processing of agricultural products and raw materials as well as in distribution and retail. He was reportedly supportive of the union but urged more assertiveness and aggressiveness in terms of market penetration and product placement, including lowering prices to stave off competition from private enterprises. However, privatisation of the body is not on the agenda, according to Lukashenko.
Heineken Belarus Receives Eur5mn Grant: In January 2013, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development granted a EUR5mn (US$6.7mn) loan to Dutch brewer Heineken's Belarusian subsidiary. The loan is aimed at assisting the company's efforts to support barley farmers and use water more efficiently in its breweries. A large amount of the loan will be used to finance the capital expenditure programme of the company's brewery in the town of Bobruisk, including upgrades for brewhouses and the purchase of eco-friendly merchandise refrigerators.
Key Risks To Outlook
Upside Inflation Risks: On the domestic front, upside risks to inflation include a spike in government spending, sustained private consumption growth, and aggressive cuts to the refinancing rate. From an external point of view, any weakening in the Belarusian currency against the Russian rouble runs a high risk of engendering imported inflation, given that Russia is Belarus' key trading partner.