AB InBev has opened on Wednesday Asia’s largest brewery in Putian city in east China. The brewing site, which is capable of producing 15 million hectoliters of beer a year, is intended to meet rising demand for high-end beers, says Jean Jereissati, president of AB InBev's Asia Pacific North.
The new facility is equipped with state-of-the-art equipment including a canning line that can fill 160,000 cans per hour, a speed that's twice as fast as previous canning lines. “It was built in record time like everything in China and it’s a very environmentally sound brewery, as most of our breweries are,” explained Carlo Brito, CEO of AB InBev in an interview with CNBC.
When asked if he was concerned about a slowdown in growth for AB InBev in China, Brito denied because of a continuous growth of China's middle class, which results in higher purchasing power and greater demand for premium brands.
AB InBev has a diverse portfolio of beer brands including international brands such as Budweiser, Coronaand Stella Artois, and leading Chinese brands such as Harbinand Sedrin. “Our brands, our activities, our experiences that we give to customers are not in the mainstream side of the market,” says Brito. “They are in the premium and super-premium side of the market and those segments are growing very nicely.”
Stella Artois, which is considered “super premium” has experienced double-digit growth since it was introduced to the Chinese market three years ago.
The Chinese beer market is currently facing a period of saturation, with decreasing demand for mainstream beers and higher demand for premium brands. The overall Chinese beer market has seen three straight years of declines, with only small signs of recovery this year (inside.beer, 30.10.2017).
The announcement comes only one week after AB InBev revealed plans to build a new 12 million hectoliter brewery in the city of Apan, Mexico to be operational in the first quarter of 2019 (inside.beer, 27.11.2017) and two weeks after another announcement to spend $250 million for the construction of a new brewery in Nigeria, which is scheduled to start operation next year. (inside.beer, 23.11.2017)