BrewDog forms craft beer joint venture with Budweiser China to tap into fast-growing segment of China | Food Business Africa Magazine

CHINA – BrewDog, a Scottish multinational brewery and pub chain, is in a joint venture with Budweiser China, the largest international brewer in the market, to expand sales in the world’s biggest market for beer that currently accounts for less than 1% of its overall sales.

The privately owned UK craft beer maker has been seeking a fresh start after it postponed a planned initial public offering (IPO) and faced claims of a toxic culture from staff, losing its status as an ethically certified B Corp in December.

According to BrewDog chief executive James Watt, the company is shifting its expansion away from its home market in the UK due to the impact of inflation on brewing and hospitality venues, which has also affected the company for a few years.

“We don’t want to be owned by ‘big beer’ but we do want to become a global beer business,” said Watt. “Most of our focus on putting our capital to work is international. The environment is very challenging in the UK.”

Watt described the Budweiser partnership as “transformational” and said it would bring the craft brewery to “every corner of the world’s biggest beer market from a truly bespoke craft brewery which will help ensure the quality of BrewDog’s beers.”

From the agreement, Budweiser China would start brewing BrewDog’s Punk IPA, Hazy Jane, and Elvis Juice beers by the end of March at its newly opened Putian craft brewery near the Southeast coast. Budweiser China is part of Budweiser Apac, the listed Asian brewer majority-owned by AB InBev.

BrewDog also plans to open several bars in the country in the next three years. The company highlighted that it currently has an international network of more than 110 bars, but just one in China. Brewdog Shanghai, which opened in 2020, is in the Jing’An district of the city.

The China tie-up will allow BrewDog to use “Budweiser China’s extensive sales and distribution network” to win a portion of the fast-growing market for “craft beer”–a term generally used for beers that deviate from the milder flavors of the biggest brands of lager.

The UK craft beer maker had also agreed to a deal with an unnamed affiliate of Budweiser China to expand BrewDog in South Korea, with options to collaborate in other Asian markets, the announcement said.

It follows a similar tie-up in 2021 with Japan’s Asahi, under which BrewDog said it had since doubled sales in the country. BrewDog also had another smaller China partnership with distributor Top Shelf and opened a bar in Shanghai in 2020.

The production of craft brews in China had reached 6.5mn hectolitres by 2020, though it was small compared to more than 341mn hectolitres of beer produced overall in China that year, according to hops supplier BarthHaas.

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Jay Ndungu

Jay is a computer scientist and journalist with a passion for the intersection of technology and society. He has a background in computer science, developing a deep understanding of the technical aspects of the industry, including programming languages and software development methodologies. Currently, He writes for Nairobi Times, covering a wide range of topics including technology, politics, sports, and entertainment. With his unique combination of technical knowledge and journalistic experience, Jay brings a unique perspective to the stories he covers, able to explain complex technical concepts in an easy-to-understand manner. His work is dedicated to bridge the gap between technology and society, and to make people more aware of the potential of technology to make the world a better place.

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