SABMiller's China venture has confirmed that it will invest US$35.3m to build a new brewery in the city of Harbin, a stronghold of Anheuser-Busch.

The London-listed brewing giant, which holdsa 49% stake in China Resources Snow Breweries, said last month that a plant would be built but declined to reveal any further details about the plans.
However, CR Snow said today (4 May) that the brewery, which will have an initial capacity of 2.3m hectolitres, should be up and running in 18 months. The investment is part of the brewer's plans to broaden the reach of its flagship Snow brand across China. Snow sales leapt 47% to almost 15.8m hectolitres last year and have almost doubled in two years in Heilongjiang province, the home of Harbin.

André Parker, managing director of SABMiller Africa & Asia, said: "The need to build a brewery to supply the demand in this key region shows the increasing presence we have in Heilongjiang despite the other incumbent competitors."

The brewery will be CR Snow's second in Heilongjiang, where the brewer already owns one site in the city of Shangzhi. Beer consumption in the province runs siginficantly above the national average in Chian. Beer drinkers in Heilongjiang consumed 15m hectolitres, which works out at 39 litres per person, with the national average standing at 23 litres.