Budweiser Brewing Co, 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 ABI.BR, which has a portfolio of more than 50 beer brands including Hoegaarden, Stella Artois, Corona and Harbin, said it currently holds more than 45% of China's market of premium and super premium beer.
'Drinking Less, But Better Beer'
Chinese consumers are drinking less, but better beer, according to industry analysts.
Beer typically costs between 5 and 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," while in South Korea it is 25% and in the West 40 to 45%, said Jan Craps, co-chair and chief executive of Budweiser, in an interview with Reuters after its fourth-quarter results.
"If you look at the middle income household and GDP growth (in China), the market will be very attractive."
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 designed for the Year of Tiger 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 Beer have also launched super high-end products costing around or more than 1,000 yuan.
Analysts from Chinese investment bank CICC said in a report in July that the high-end market was the biggest growth driver of the beer industry.
Budweiser on Thursday reported an 84.8% surge in net profit for 2021 on revenue up 14.9% helped by premium sales.
News by Reuters, edited by Donna Ahern, Checkout. For more Drinks stories, click here. Click subscribe to sign up for the Checkout print edition.