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Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Big Beer's Future? Asia

Yesterday's Wall Street Journal featured a piece on how MolsonCoors is belatedly trying to catch up with multinational titans.  The company recently picked up StarBev (you know, the guys who own Noroc and Kamenitza) and will become the world's 7th largest beer conglomerate.  (These entities aren't "breweries" in any meaningful sense.)  But here's the thing I found interesting.  After the usual names, InBev, SABMiller, Heineken, and Carlsberg, there are some interesting names on the list: China Resources Enterprise and Beijing Yangjin.  Indeed, four of the top ten are Asian companies.

This is remarkable. The WSJ article says analysts predict 5% growth in the Chinese market over the next few years--and I would call that a conservative estimate.  But even at that rate, the growth will be staggering.  The Chinese market is only in its infancy.  Almost no one drinks beer there, and yet it's already the world's biggest market. With five percent (compounding) growth on top of the world's biggest market, buckets of money are just lying around for the enterprising multinational.  Europe's market is mature and the population stagnant, and the North American market for big beer is shrinking.  For major breweries, the Chinese market represents horizons available nowhere else in the world.  I wouldn't be surprised to see six or seven Asian brands on this list in a decade.


  1. Check out Snow Brewing. This Chinese brewer might be the biggest although it sells mainly inside China.

  2. Where are the hops going to come from for this proposed massive expansion of production? I know the beers in question, like Snow, are very lightly hopped, but still.

  3. Reports indicate the Chinese hops industry is growing gonzo [or is that Gansu].

  4. I object to calling these organizations conglomerates instead of brewers.

    A conglomerate is an entity who's various enterprises are not related. Example: General Electric. Owns TV stations, manufacturers jet engines, offers financial services, manufacture oil equipment.

    AB InBev and SAB Miller, by contrast, are more or less exclusively focused on the design, manufacture, and sale of beer. They are highly specialized, with massive expertise in the beer industry. They are practically the precise opposite of a conglomerate.

    You many not personally be fond of their methods, or their products, but they are brewers, and to call them otherwise is simply inaccurate.