Brewery giant Carlsberg sneaks into the big leagues in Vietnam’s market

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The Danish company is now the number four player in a country with a vibrant beer culture.
Betting on Vietnam’s high beer consumption, Carlsberg Breweries has acquired almost 11 percent of the local market, which is still dominated by a state-owned brewer.

The company’s performance in Vietnam, especially in the central region, has been strong, Carlsberg Vietnam CEO Tayfun Uner said at a press conference earlier this week.

He said it is currently holding more than half of the beer market in the central provinces, with the highest growth recorded in Da Nang, from merely 1 percent in 2012 to 19.8 percent.

Carlsberg is now ranked fourth in Vietnam with a 10.8 percent market share, after Ho Chi Minh City-based Sabeco with 46 percent, Heineken-owned Vietnam Brewery Limited with 25 percent, and Hanoi-based Habeco with nearly 20 percent. Nearly 90 percent of Sabeco, the maker of the iconic Saigon brand, is owned by the state.

The Danish beer maker’s significant growth in the central region is in line with its production expansion strategy in the country.

It acquired Hue Brewery, a dominant player in the central region known for its best-selling brand Huda Hue, for more than $90 million in 2011.

Carlsberg is also currently holding a 17.23 stake in the country’s third-biggest beer firm Habeco, which is scheduled to have its listing on the secondary stock market next Friday.

As the Vietnamese government is speeding up its plan to offload assets at Habeco, Carlsberg is expected to more than double its stake in the firm.

The company has been pouring money into the country as the Vietnamese are guzzling more beer than ever.

According to the Vietnam Beer Alcohol Beverage Association, Vietnamese drinkers are expected to consume more than 4 billion liters of beer this year, up from 3.88 billion liters in 2015.

Over the past five years, Vietnam has seen a 40-percent jump in beer consumption to more than 3.8 billion liters in 2015.

Each Vietnamese person drinks on average 27.4 liters, making them the heaviest beer drinkers in Southeast Asia, the third in Asia after Japan and China, and in the world’s top 25.