“[The] premium segment of [the China beer] market inclusive of imported beer brands is in particular continuing to exhibit dramatic growth,” said Sapporo in an official statement.
“[We] also intend to gain a foothold in this market segment and expand its distribution channels.”
The global beer market was valued by market researchers at US$ 530 bn in 2016, and is predicted to reach roughly US$ 750 bn by 2022. Premium beer is expected to grow at the highest CAGR up until 2022.
The Asia Pacific region holds the largest demand, over a 30% share of the global in 2016. Of this, China is the top consumer, taking up 27% of total volume or over 433 million US barrels, according to the National Beer Wholesalers Association.
“Given the recent popularity of Japanese brands fuelled by growth of the Japanese food market and the increase in foreign tourists to Japan, [Sapporo] has determined that now is the right time to re-enter the market and launch sales consignments through a master distributor contract with ABI,” it added.
“[We] are targeting sales of one million cases […] in 2022 through collaboration with ABI and aim to establish [our] brand in the expanding Chinese market.”
Sapporo Premium Beer exports to China will commence later this year, around the October to November period.
The AB InBev rule over China’s premium and super premium beers
In its statement, Sapporo describes AB InBev as a company “that commands a dominating market presence in the premium segment”. It is not wrong, given that AB InBev commands a 14% share of the Chinese beer market according to NBWA.
AB InBev has been operating in China for more than 30 years. It has invested heavily in China in recent years, including the opening of a new brewery in Fujian, China just last year.
AB-InBev company documents stated that its super premium brands, including Hoegaarden, Corona and Franziskaner nearly doubled in volume in FY 2017. An opinion piece on Seeking Alpha also described AB-InBev to be “now the industry leader in all super premium beer sales in China”.