Myanmar: About 1 million hl of beer smuggled into the country

More than 3 months after Emerald Brewery Myanmar started local production of ThaiBev’s Chang beer under license (, 4.10.2019), large amounts of all Chang beer sold in Myanmar is still smuggled into the country.

Already for many years beer from neighboring Thailand such as Chang, Singha and Leo has illegally crossed the Thai-Myanmar border and sold openly throughout the country. Euromonitor estimated that in 2017 nearly one out of three beers was illegally imported into the country, most of it from Thailand. According to estimates, total volume of the smuggled beer reached in the last years about 1 million hl per year, which reflects the semi-formal nature of the business.

Local breweries, however, deplore an unfair distortion in competition as tax evasion makes smuggled beers about 35pc cheaper than locally-produced products. This is also the reason why illegal import of Chang beer from ThaiBev’s Kamphaeng Phet brewery, which is not more than 150 kilometres away from the Myanmar border, is still going on.

Although Emerald, which is through ThaiBev’s subsidiary Fraser and Neave partly owned by the company from Thailand, officially complains about the unfair competition, Emerald has to admit that smuggling has raised brand awareness for Chang and gave it a head start over Heineken, Carlsberg and Kirin (, 12.2.2017), which had to “start from scratch” when they entered the country several years ago.

“We acknowledge and are encouraged that there is some awareness of Chang Lager Beer in Myanmar,” said Edmund Neo, CEO at Chang International Co. “Based on our studies, we know that Chang Lager Beer enjoys a high level of brand saliency among consumers due to our long-standing partnerships with English Premier League football clubs like Everton and Leicester City.”

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