Food & Wine

China’s beer production decreases for first time in 24 years

Updated: 18 May 2015
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Bottles of Tsingtao beer at a factory in Qingdao, Shandong province


The volume of beer produced in China decreased in 2014 for the first time in 24 years, falling by an annual 2.76% to 4.9 million kiloliters, according to the latest data from the country's National Bureau of Statistics.

In 2013, China's beer production broke the 50 million-kiloliter mark to reach 50.62 million kiloliters, but in 2014, beer was the only alcoholic drink in the country that registered a drop in production, the Chinese-language Legal Weekly said.

According to a business report, the market share of beer in China's alcoholic drink sector declined by 1.6 percentage points to 75.2% in 2014. "The development of the beer business is at a turning point," China Alcoholic Drinks Association chair Wang Yancai said at the 2015 congress of Chinese beer breweries.

He Yun, deputy secretary general of the association, in a 2014 working report attributed the lower production volume mainly to a saturation of China's beer consumption market.

Other factors include the cold temperatures in mid-2014 during the usual peak season for beer, a slowdown in China's economic growth, and an expansion of the range of available alcoholic drinks to include white and red wines, He said.

Industry sources, however, expressed a different opinion, saying that the consumption of beer in China is 34.2 liters per person per year–higher than the global average of 33 liters per person–and that there is not much chance of a continued rise.

"In modern society, consumers are becoming more and more health-conscious, which has resulted in a trend of decreasing alcohol consumption," the Legal Weekly quoted an unnamed commentator as saying.

Zhang Wujiu, chair of the China Alcoholic Drinks Association's beer raw material committee, said competition in the China's beer sector is now changing to cooperation and the market is seeking reasonable profits.

To pursue business growth, the big Chinese breweries have been considering the feasibility of online sales in cooperation with e-commerce operators, the Legal Weekly said.




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