There are now 232 craft breweries operating in South East Asia, up from just six in 2010, the region’s annual craft brewing conference has been told.
Charles Guerrier, event director of SEA Brew which opened yesterday in Bangkok, told more than 500 attendees at the conference that the region was seeing strong growth in beer production with countries such as the Phillipines and South Korea recording growth of up to 25 per cent a year.
Guerrier said projections showed that the total market retail value for beer in the region would double from USD250 million in 2017 to USD500 million in 2019.
The South East Asian region comprises 10 countries with a total population of 650 million people, just under half the population of China, the conference was told.
While the number of breweries has exploded, Guerrier said that there was strong demand for imports, particularly in countries such as Singapore.
The island nation, which has one of the highest average incomes in all of Asia at $4,323 per month, has seen beer sales growth of up to 10 per cent for locally produced beers, but 20 per cent for imports.
Guerrier attributed this to the sales professionalism of beer importers across the region.
“We’ve seen companies with good solid distribution channels are the ones that are growing in the region.”
“Imported beers are generally imported by people with solid sales teams and access to markets,” he said.
“Small breweries without dedicated sales teams are struggling a little to wholesale,” he said.
“Local breweries need to define themselves somehow and work in a country that is proud of their local craft. It’s taking time for the local population in Asia generally to understand about craft beer, [and] the freshness of local beer.
“They always see overseas beer as a better product, whilst the quality of beer being produced in Asia is getting better and better.”
Guerrier said the growing middle class was creating markets for brewers to tap into.
“Places like Vietnam are growing their middle class, which has gone from something like 16 per cent to 24 per cent in a matter of four or five years,” he said.
“So there’s more disposable income coming into the market, and then you have massive markets like Korea and China so for people looking to export into Asia, there’s definitely markets worth looking at.
“They’re going to be growing for years and years and years to come.”
SEA Brew concludes today.