Craft Beer Coming over the Great Wall

The recent China Brew & Beverage conference in Shanghai showed that although the craft beer segment is still very small in China and hardly registers in market overviews, there are changes happening that make craft beer an interesting category to watch.

picture of craft beers

Report summary

The Chinese beer market is maturing

The beer market in China has matured considerably over the past decades and is now much more developed than in other South-East Asian countries. We see value and profitability increasing, just as in most developed beer markets. And like the consumers in more developed markets, Chinese consumers in the eastern provinces are beginning to shift to ‘less but better’ beer.

Super-premium segment is dominated by foreign beers and craft

Globally, the beer sector is seeing premiumisation. Super-premium volume has grown from 4.5% of the total world market in 2000 to 6% in 2015. In value terms, the growth of superpremium has been even more profound. Imported beer is the largest contributor to super-premium volumes. But super-premium is not the exclusive playing field of leading brands. Millennial consumers are very interested in independent craft beers and this category is spreading across the world.

Great opportunities for craft beer in China

The Chinese beer market is following the trend towards premiumisation. Apart from imported and foreign-licensed beer, the super-premium segment in China also contains craft beer. Currently, craft beer is a very small category, even within the superpremium segment. Given that consumption patterns in the eastern provinces are starting to follow similar trends to those seen in the US and parts of Europe, we believe craft is likely to continue gaining considerable market share moving forward. There will be great opportunities for import craft beer, domestic craft beer that uses foreign ingredients and domestic craft beer from local ingredients.

Read our Industry Note ‘Beverage Market Reflections: Craft Beer Coming over the Great Wall’ to learn more about these developments, and get more of our observations on the Chinese craft beer sector.

  • Francois Sonneville

    Senior Analyst - Beverages
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