Danish brewer Carlsberg has strengthened its presence in western China after securing a fresh joint venture with a local brewer and making ties with another.

Carlsberg today (3 April) said that it had a signed a joint venture deal with Ningxia Nongken Enterprise Group to set up a greenfield brewery in western China's Ningxia
Autonomous Region.

Carlsberg will own 70% of the venture and the new brewery - expected to be up and running at the end of the year - will have a capacity of 1m hectoliters.

Carlsberg has also moved to strengthen its ties with its brewing partner in Xinjiang province, and now owns half of the combined Wusu/Xinjiang Brewing Group, which owns 11 breweries in the province. In 2004, Carlsberg had bought a 34.5% stake in Wusu Brewery, which runs five of the plants.

Jesper B. Madsen, senior vice-president for Carlsberg in Asia, said: "Beer consumption in western China is still significantly below the national average, in certain provinces less then 1/4 of the national average.

"This combined with the central government's desire to develop the western part of China both financially and in all other areas and to catch up with the rest of China, means that the potential for increase of beer consumption in this region is very significant. We have established a very solid base for growing our business in China considerably."