Colombia: CCU-Heineken postpones opening of new brewery to 2018

Central Cervecera Colombiana (CCC), a fifty-fifty joint venture between Compañía Cervecerías Unidas (CCU) in Chile, in which Heineken has a major stake, and Postobón, market leader in non-alcoholic beverages in Colombia, has postponed the opening of its new 3 million hectoliter brewery to the first quarter of 2018. CCC’s new plant is located in the city of Sesquilé, located 60 km outside of Colombia’s capital Bogotá, and was originally intended to cost $400 million.

Already in September last year, Patricio Jottar, CEO of CCU, told the press that the company started with the earthworks. Krones, a leading supplier of brewing equipment, was recently commissioned with the installation of the process technology.

In the meantime, CCC started import and distribution of brands like Heineken and Coors Light in Colombia. The company can profit from Postbón’s extensive net of  490.000 sales points throughout the country. "Volumes have grown significantly ( …) and, according to Nielsen, the market share with Heineken and Coors was better than AB InBev's premiums, which has been operating with Corona, Stella Artois and Budweiser in Colombia," said Jottar last year and added that this result is a sign that "we are moving in the right direction".  AB InBev last year bought its rival SABMiller, owner of Colombia’s market leader Bavaria, which controls up to now 98% of the domestic beer market.

"The real profit in Colombia will come when the brewery is ready and we launch our local brand. We expect that the volume that we will have before the beginning of operations in Colombia improves marginally with the real operations," said Jottar. Once in operation, CCC’s new brewery will also produce the Heineken brand.

Besides the planned new brewery, Colombia’s beer market also sees the emergence of new craft breweries. The market leaders have faced this challenge in acquiring leading players in the market.

In 2015, AB InBev purchased leading craft brewer Bogotá Beer Company (BBC) . One year later, Organización Ardila Lulle (OAL), owner of CCC’s partner Postobón, bought craft brewer Artesana Beer Company (3 Cordilleras) from Medellin and CCC acquired Industria de Cervezas y Bebidas (Inducerv), the owner of the premium beer brand Apóstol.

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