Blog: Chris Brook-CarterThe Dragon awakes

Chris Brook-Carter | 20 January 2005

If any statistic demonstrates the seismic shift in the global landscape of the beer market, it is that Anheuser-Busch, that all-American brewer, now has more breweries in China than in its home market of North America.

In acquiring Harbin last year, Anheuser-Busch reached a grand total of 13 formerly state-run breweries spread across China’s north-east.

It doesn't seem so long ago - in fact, it was among the first major stories I covered when I began following the drinks industry as a journalist seven years ago - that multinational brewers were fleeing from China with their fingers severely burnt by the idiosyncracies of this complex market.

It seemed so unlikely then that they would return in such numbers and with such large investments so soon.

China is already the largest beer market in the world and its potential is finally being fulfilled, though only just.

In our most recent management breifing - available for download at /membersclub/index.asp - analysts at Euromonitor Intenational wrote: "China is expected to reinforce its position as the world’s largest market, accounting for 22% of total global sales in 2009. Beer volumes in China are expected to grow by 62% over the next five years. The relaxation of controls over foreign-funded enterprises will allow more international brewers to enter the market and switch consumer tastes to higher quality products."


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