Is China the Hottest New Beer Market?

When you think of beer, chances are good that European nations like Germany come to mind first. You might think of Britain, Holland or even America, too. However, in the emerging global market, it actually looks like you should set your sights a bit farther east – that is, Far East. China is set to become one of the world's leading consumers of beer and breweries all around the planet are taking notice of this trend. What's going on in China?

It shouldn't come as news that China is the most populous nation in the world. In fact, more than 1.3 billion people call China home – as there are only 7 billion people in the entire world, that puts a whole lot of them in China. Therefore, simply in terms of numbers, it makes a lot of sense for breweries to start eyeballing China as a prime market for their products. Of course, in the past, this wasn't possible because of the harsh stance taken by the government against imports, particularly against the importation of alcohol. Things are different today.

China is a new, gentler nation (well, that remains to be seen, but they've relaxed some of their rules and regulations). This makes China easier to get into for many beer companies. In fact, Kirin Beverage Co. of Japan is in the process of signing papers with one of China's largest beer companies to market their beer throughout China, with some joint ventures in mind, as well.

Does beer sell in China? Yes, and it sells quickly. On an annual basis, Chinese residents consume 30 liters of beer. While that doesn't approach the consumption of beer in America (Nevada tops out the charts at 44 gallons per person per year), it does represent a better market than, say, India, where the average beer consumption is barely a liter per person per year. However, India is set to become a hot market for beer companies, too. The lack of beer consumption there seems tied to a lack of breweries – Cobra Beer is expanding in the Indian market in the next few years, and hopes to increase supply and, thereby, increase demand.

So, if you want to follow the beer industry, expect things to start swinging more and more toward China and other Asian nations. Of course, that doesn't mean that the US is going to be left out, but there will be a noticeable shift in trends.

Posted on January 31, 2011 and filed under The Business of Beer.