BrewDog set for major expansion into China

BrewDog, the independent craft brewer, is set for major expansion in the world’s biggest beer market after sealing a joint venture partnership in China with Budweiser China, a brewer with leading positions in the premium and super-premium beer segments in China.

The ‘BrewDog China’ joint venture will use Budweiser China’s extensive sales and distribution network in the world’s second biggest economy to take BrewDog’s biggest-selling brands such as Punk IPA, Hazy Jane and Elvis Juice across the country from March 2023.

The long-term agreement will focus on expanding the BrewDog brand across Greater China and allows BrewDog to capitalise on rapid market growth in the country, which is now the world’s biggest producer and consumer of beer. Additionally, an affiliate of Budweiser China and BrewDog have partnered to expand BrewDog in South Korea, with options to collaborate in other Asian markets at a later date.

The popularity of craft beer in China has surged over the past decade with production rising 10-fold to 6.5m hectolitres by 2020 as drinkers move beyond familiar lagers to seek out premium brands and superior taste. BrewDog’s famous beers will be locally produced by expert brewers in China in collaboration with BrewDog’s global brew master and head of quality at Budweiser China’s Putian Craft Brewery in Fujian province.

Local production also allows BrewDog to reduce significantly the CO2 output and logistics costs associated with importing beer from Europe, by brewing beer closer to its customers. The brewery, which opened in July 2022, was designed and built according to sustainability principles that align with BrewDog’s own corporate ethos.

China currently accounts for less than 1% of BrewDog’s overall sales. Under the new partnership, BrewDog aims to achieve significant multiples of its existing Chinese volumes, leveraging Budweiser China’s highly sophisticated country-wide distribution network, making China a key market for BrewDog’s growing international business.

The deal marks BrewDog’s second joint venture in Asia following the announcement of its partnership in Japan with another brewer in September 2021. Sales in Japan have doubled since the deal was announced, in line with the highly ambitious growth plans for the country.

Additionally, BrewDog China also plans to open several new hospitality venues in China by 2026, building on BrewDog’s sole Chinese bar in Shanghai and adding to its existing international network of more than 110 bars.

James Watt, founder of BrewDog, expressed his excitement about further expansion into China when he said: “This is a genuinely transformational partnership which is going to bring BrewDog to every corner of the world’s biggest beer market, from a truly bespoke craft brewery which will help ensure the quality of our beers. By making beer closer to our customers, we’ll be giving them even fresher beer and doing it in a way which is better for the planet. Over the past few years we’ve established local production in the US, Germany and Australia.

“Chinese drinkers love craft beer, but the sector is still very new. In Budweiser China, we have found a partner that shares our growth vision for BrewDog in China and is perfectly placed to support our rapid growth in the region.

“We’ve always wanted to significantly grow our share in China – this new JV will enable us to do just that as we look to continue to grow our business globally.”

Nicolas Morelli, craft and specialty beer VP of Budweiser China, said Bud China is leading in craft beer across China and it is  its intention to focus on premium and super premium beer offerings in the country.

‘We are excited to add BrewDog to our craft beer portfolio to enrich Chinese beer lovers’ experience with more craft beer choices,” Morelli added.

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