Singapore-based food and beverage group, Fraser & Neave (F&N), majority owned by Thai Beverage Plc (ThaiBev), has set its sights on growing its beer business in Myanmar, as reported by The Bangkok Post.
F&N is prepared to make a substantial investment of SGD 19.2 million (USD 14.4 m) to build a new brewery on 35 acres of land leased for 50 years through a joint venture with the local beverage conglomerate Win Brothers.
Chang beer from ThaiBev is very popular in Myanmar. Thailand shares a 2.416km long border with Myanmar and, for many years, beers from Thailand such as Chang, Singha and Leo (the latter two from Boon Rawd Brewery) have illegally crossed the Thai-Myanmar border and have been sold openly throughout the country. It is estimated that in 2019, before the pandemic, about 1 million hl of beer from Thailand have been smuggled into the country. (inside.beer, 21.1.2020)
Even after Emerald Brewery Myanmar started local production of ThaiBev’s Chang beer under license in 2019 (inside.beer, 4.10.2019), large amounts of smuggled beer have been sold in Myanmar.
ThaiBev’s new joint-venture partner Win Brothers Group of Co., Ltd is one of the most dynamic conglomerates in Myanmar. The company was established in 1990 by the Win family in Mandalay. The group operates in several diversified sectors such as Alcoholic Beverages Products, Industrial Gas, Agriculture, Sugar, Building Material, Mining and Distribution.
The group’s beverage activities are bundled so far under the Mandalay Beverages Enterprise Co., Ltd, which runs the Shwe Myin Pyan Distillery. The distillery, established in 1990, is the largest producer of distilling products in Myanmar. The company specialized in manufacturing of GNS (Grain Neutral Spirits) and ENA (Extra Neutral Spirits) which is produced from raw materials such as yellow corn, broken rice and molasses by fermentation and distillation processes. DDG, a byproduct of distillery is used as a livestock feed in Myanmar.
In 1994 the Mandalay Beverages Enterprisestarted production, sales and distribution of country liquor and rum. Today, the company operates three production units and 10 sales units across Myanmar selling Rum, White Liquor, Organic Flavor Liquor and Carbonated Liquor. The company also produces whisky by aging the product in imported oak barrels from America. Rum is aged in Myanmar’s Yamanay barrels.
Since 2019, Win Brothers also has a joint-venture with French spirits group Pernod Ricard for the sale of brands like Seagram’s High Class, Seagram’s Imperial Blue and Seagram’s 100 Pipers.
The announcement of F&N and Win Brothers to build a new brewery comes one year after Japanese Kirin Holdings sold their majority stake in Myanmar Brewery Limited (MBL) to its joint-venture partner, the military-owned Myanma Economic Holdings (MEHL) (inside.beer, 30.6.2022)
Kirin entered the Myanmar market in 2015 by purchasing MBL shares for USD 560 million, thus entering a joint-venture with military-owned MEHL. After a coup d’état in Myanmar on February 1, 2021 in which the democratically elected forces were ousted and a military government was established, Kirin came under pressure for financially supporting the military regime which is said to be responsible for countless atrocities against the Rohingya and other ethnic minorities.
The new brewery in Myanmar is part of F&N's ongoing efforts to diversify its portfolio and expand its market share in the Southeast Asian region. F&N is present in 11 countries spanning Asia Pacific and the Americas. The Beverages & Dairies segment of F&N includes activities in Brunei, Dubai, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, while Publishing & Printing is present in Chile, China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, United States.
Besides owning one of the leading brewing groups in Thailand as well as a majority share in F&N, ThaiBev has also gained control of Vietnam’s leading brewer Sabeco in 2017. (inside.beer, 18.12.2017)