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Global hop market

A local alternative to mass beer suggested by independent brewers has been successful and is now altering the global market. Beer is becoming more diversified, so transnational companies have to accept the new game rules and to switch focus to young and fast growing markets. All these processes increased the demand for aroma and bitter hop as well as their acreage expansion on two continents. However now there appeared a downward trend of alcohol consumption in the world, so even special sorts can soon turn to be sufficient. In this connection the dynamic American hop market is already facing some problems. EU hop producers have become more cautious, they are not racing to exceed the demand and look forward with more confidence, judging by the contract terms. 

Hop Market in Russia

Germany still dominates the Russian market, yet over the recent two years one has been able observe a continuous success of Czech hop suppliers. Their expansion and growing popularity of hops from the United States became the drivers of supplies growth in 2016 despite the preceding modest harvest crop in the EU, as well as the factor of relative stability in 2017. In this connection, in 2017, the ratio of the varieties continued to shift towards the aroma ones, and the supplies of Magnum hop and other alpha varieties were reduced. However, the import of bitter hop pellets is partially replaced by extracts, especially from the major beer manufacturers. Total volumes of alpha acid supplies, according to our estimation, decreased by approximately 5% and returned to the level of 2015. Barth Haas Group continues dominating the hop products market; HVG also increased its weight. At the same time, Morris Hanbury significantly reduced the supplies in 2017.

Anheuser sells more China brew despite down market

While big Chinese brewers have seen sales slip amid a broad market downturn, Belgium-based Anheuser-Busch InBev's savvy marketing has helped it buck the trend.

China Resources Beer held its earnings briefing for the year through December 2015 in March. Speaking in Hong Kong, Hou Xiaohai, CEO of the company's key China Resources Snow Breweries unit, said that because the Chinese beer market is so competitive, it is getting harder to pursue growth in volume.

Sales at China's largest brewer stood at 34.8 billion Hong Kong dollars ($4.48 billion) in its beer operations last year, up 1% in revenue terms from a year earlier. Sales volume dropped about 1.3% on the year to 11.68 million kiloliters. Overall, China's beer market appears to have shrunk about 5% by volume. To address this problem, China Resources Brewery said it will move upmarket, focusing more on midrange and higher priced products.

Other major Chinese brewers are also suffering from poor sales. Second-ranked Tsingtao Brewery posted declines in both sales and profit. Its sales volume slipped about 7.3% on the year. Beijing Yanjing Brewery, which ranks fourth, saw its sales volume slide by about 9.2%.

Chongqing Brewery, a unit of the Danish beer giant Carlsberg group, also saw its sales volume shrink. It also posted a net loss of 65 million yuan ($10 million) due to a one-time charge associated with the closure of a factory, compared with a net profit of 73.43 million yuan the previous year.


Chinese brewers have had trouble adjusting to a beer market that is no longer expanding. During the heady days of growth, brewers make a profit despite low sales margins. A shrinking market calls for a new business model.

While Chinese brewers flounder, AB InBev, which has the third-largest slice of the Chinese market, is delivering solid results. The huge Belgian brewer has pulled in young drinkers with its American brand Budweiser, which is positioned as a premium product in China. It has also attracted older consumers with its cheaper Harbin beer. Its sales volume was up 0.4% from a year earlier, while sales revenue jumped about 10%.

AB InBev bought U.K.-based SABMiller late last year. As a result of the deal, the joint venture between SABMiller and China Resources Beer was terminated. AB InBev is expected to start selling SABMiller's products in China as well. With AB InBev gaining momentum, some market watchers predict AB InBev, which raised its market share about 16% in 2015, may overtake Tsingtao within a few years. Its market share is forecast to reach about 18% by that time.

Despite the recent pullback, China is expected to remain the world's largest beer market, downing around a quarter of the beer consumed worldwide. To catch up with AB InBev, Chinese brewers will need to slash excess capacity and workers, as well as develop products to satisfy changing tastes.

18 Апр. 2016



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