China has become the largest beer market in the world. However, Chinese consumers are beginning to get a taste for premium craft beer.
Beer culture in China has been booming, however, taste has been for locally produced, cheap, low alcohol beer.
We have just started to see a growing pocket of demand for craft beer, mainly among the male, urban middle class. Chinese consumers are willing to pay a premium for higher quality craft beer. Over the past couple of years, craft beer production in China has risen by 24-25%.
Larger international beer corporations, such as AB InBev, are trying to capitalize on this growing interest. AB InBev is one of the top five brewers in China right now. They recently opened a craft beer brewery in Wuhan, China. In March 2017, they bought out Boxing Cat, a successful brewery in Shanghai, allowing them to push their imported craft beer at premium prices.
AB InBev has been focusing on the high-end market share, and right now, there is a lot of room for growth in China. Their revenue in China increased in the third quarter by 4.6%. Imported beer brands, like Budweiser, Corona, and Stella Artois, are seen as high-end, and have experienced double-digit growth in the past four years. They accounted for 30% of AB InBev’s total sales.
In the large beer market in China, craft beer is finally taking off, and companies like AB InBev are making sure they grab a chunk of that market share. By buying out local breweries, and pushing their imported beer brands, they are able to make beer sales at higher price-points. China already has a culture of beer drinking, but now the urban middle class is willing to pay premium prices for higher quality.