The Primator brewery was established in 1872 in the town of Náchod in the Eastern part of the Czech Republic. A relatively young brewery, Primator has an output of 140,000 hectolitres, focusing on the production of special beers. We meet the Principal of Primator in Indonesia, Pavel Maly.
How many types of beers do you produce?
Primator produces 15 types of beers – classic pilsners as Premium or Premium Dark, top-fermented as Weizenbier, Stout or English and India Pale Ale, specials with an alcohol content of 7.5 percent – 10.5 percent, and finally a flavoured grapefruit beer.
Primator focuses on export – can you tell us where?
Thirty-five percent of production is exported to 36 countries. In East Asia the brewery supplies to Thailand, Vietnam, South Korea, Taiwan, China and Indonesia, recently receiving queries from Singapore and Hong Kong.
What do your Indonesian customers say about your beer?
Indonesian customers are positively surprised by the full and robust taste, which is at the same time very smooth and rounded.
What market research was conducted before entering Indonesia?
I lived in Indonesia for some time and had the chance to taste all the beers available on the market. Later on, my local colleagues visited the Czech Republic, tasted our beers and told me to start importing Czech beer to Indonesia. So I did!
I would not be able to succeed in this endeavour without great support of the Czech Embassy and the European Indonesian Business Network (EIBN), who helped me to present Primator at the Wine and Cheese Expo in 2014. There, I had the opportunity to talk to professionals and the general public and got the necessary feedback. I think we selected and brought the right variety of beer for the Indonesian market.
We have also been supported by the Czech Embassy in Jakarta, which I am grateful for.
Of all your different types of beer you brew, which is most popular in Indonesia?
Based on market research and recommendations of the local beer market experts, we decided to register three types of beer: Primator Premium, World´s Best Lager 2010; Primator Weizenbier, World´s Best Beer 2013; and Primator Chipper, which is Weizenbier with grapefruit juice. We supply all of these in 500 ml bottles and later we plan to offer 20 litre non-returnable plastic kegs with a tapping devise without Co2 or biogas bottles.
How many retail and F&B outlets is your beer now available at in Indonesia?
We are fast expanding, especially in Bali and Surabaya. Jakarta is little bit slower. At the moment Primator is available in 50 outlets in those three areas and our target is to triple the number of outlets by the end of the summer.
After widespread protests against the rule to disallow the sale of beer in mini-markets in Bali, the Vice Chairman of the Bali House of Representatives issued a special set of rules that allowed the sale of beer in tourist areas of Bali last year. Did this have an effect on your sales?
Primator was not impacted by the set of rules in Bali. Our sales are growing there this year, available in minimarkets like Angel Mart or Brothers Mart, supermarkets like Pepito, Bali Deli or Hardys, and some outlets like Melting Pot saloon or Nyoman´s Beer Garden at a price of Rp.85,000.
What are your thoughts on the banning of alcohol in Surabaya, and how will this affect the entire alcohol industry in Indonesia?
I think that it will open the door for the black market and dangerous unlicensed production and sales.
A lot of people will probably lose their jobs, and the government will lose taxes. Finally it could have a positive impact on demand for beer, which would be good. The question is what will happen to the prices? I am personally against the price increasing.
What challenges do you face in the import alcohol market in Indonesia?
The biggest challenge is the change of rules. Every business needs a clear and simple set of rules which is stable over a long period of time. Of course, the alcohol business is specific, but there is no need to develop complicated rules; just use the best practices which have proven themselves to work well in other countries, provide jobs for people, keep consumption safe and create a steady income for the government.
We’re now in the month of Ramadhan. What does this mean for your business operations? Will it be business as usual or otherwise?
I expect a slowing down of business with the exception of Bali, where our distributor expects a higher volume of sales due to the higher number of local and foreign visitors.
Tell us about your distribution operations. How does this work?
I would say that distribution is the same as with other alcohol. PT Pantja Artha Niaga is an importer, and the general distributor is PT Sinar Mulia Gemilang, which operates in Jakarta and spreads the beer to other areas as well.
You offer a home delivery service. What is the minimum order?
The minimum order is one case of 20 bottles of 500 ml. The delivery is free and the price is Rp.1.4 million per case. Customers can also buy a case of glasses. The plan for the future is to offer 20 litre plastic kegs with tapping device for private parties.
According to your Facebook page, Czechs drink the most beer of any nation. Can you share the statistics and your thoughts on why this is so?
Yes, the Czechs are the biggest consumers of beer per capita in the world. There are over 250 breweries in our small country with a population of 10 million people – that’s why beer there is of the highest quality and comes at a fantastic price. We brew 18 million hectolitres a year and 15 million hectolitres are consumed at home. This means roughly 156 litres per person a year.
Imported beers represent only 1 percent of total consumption. No one can compete; western tourists visit our country to visit the historical sights and to taste our great beer. We have more than 1,000 years of tradition in brewing and consuming beer, precisely since 998 when the very first brewery was documented.
Beer is our tradition, our life; it’s in our blood. Once a year almost every brewery organizes open door parties with music and food. You are welcome in the Czech Republic to celebrate with us!
What would you say to someone who hasn’t tried Primator yet?
Anyone is invited to try the sensation that leaves you waiting for the next sip. It is a characteristic of all types of Pilsner beers for which Czech Premium lager is famous all over the world. All three Primator beers available in Indonesia represent the unique art of brewing in Náchod.
In your opinion, what is the future for the alcohol industry in Indonesia?
Indonesia has quite a short experience with alcohol and we as alcohol professionals should educate customers about the alcohol drinking culture, quality selection and also reveal that quality alcohol in small amounts is beneficial for one’s health, especially a glass of beer or wine a day is great. I believe that the government will recognize this and find the right place for the alcohol business. I am an optimistic person, so I believe that the alcohol industry and culture will eventually develop in Indonesia.