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Budweiser Group to Focus on High-End Beer in China

The Asian arm of Anheuser-Busch InBev has a portfolio of more than 50 beer brands including Hoegaarden, Stella Artois, Corona and China-made Harbin

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Cans of Budweiser beer are displayed on a supermarket shelf in Shanghai. Photo: Reuters.

 

Budweiser Brewing APAC, Asia’s largest beer company by sales, said on Thursday it plans to promote more high-end beer in China, having seen strong demand, especially for limited edition beer gift sets costing more than 1,500 yuan ($237).

The Asia arm of Anheuser-Busch InBev, which has a portfolio of more than 50 beer brands including Hoegaarden, Stella Artois, Corona and China-made Harbin, said it holds more than 45% of China’s market of premium and super premium beer.

Budweiser on Thursday reported an 84.8% surge in net profit for 2021 on revenue up 14.9% helped by premium sales.

Chinese consumers are drinking less, but better beer, according to industry analysts. Beer typically costs 5-10 yuan a bottle in China. Premium beer is priced at 10-12 yuan and super premium is anything more.

“Today we estimate that there is only 16% of the total beer consumption in China that is premium or super premium,” Jan Craps, co-chair and chief executive of Budweiser APAC, said.

In South Korea higher-end brands account for 25% and in the West 40-45% of the market. “If you look at the middle income household and gross domestic product growth in China, the market will be very attractive,” Craps added.

Reflecting the strength of the demand for such products, a super high-end limited edition gift box priced at 1,588 yuan that contained a bottle of beer and two Italian crystal glasses, “sold out immediately” after it was launched in January, he said.

“We only sold 2,400 bottles. From the start we didn’t try to sell more, we want to keep it very limited.”

Major beer brands in China such as Tsingtao Brewery and China Resources (CR) Beer have also launched super high-end products costing around or more than 1,000 yuan.

Analysts from Chinese investment bank CICC said high-end market was the biggest growth driver of the beer industry.

“We believe the average selling price of CR Beer will continue to increase due to its premiumisation strategy,” CICC analysts Anita Du and Anita Chu said.

 

  • Reuters, with additional editing by George Russell

 

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George Russell

George Russell is a freelance writer and editor based in Hong Kong who has lived in Asia since 1996. His work has been published in the Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, New York Post, Variety, Forbes and the South China Morning Post.

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