close-up of a beer in a glass (Photo: Timothy Dykes, Unsplash)
27 November 2020

Beer in Asia: a mixed picture

Asia | For the first nine months of 2020 the world’s leading brewers all reported beer sales to have declined in their Asian markets, albeit to varying degrees. AB-InBev saw the steepest drop: -14.1 percent to 77.6 million hl. Heineken reported a 9.7 percent drop to 20 million hl, whereas Carlsberg saw an 8.5 percent decrease to 28 million hl.

Forecasting is a tough job, in 2020 especially. As the figures keep coming in, Statista, a data firm, has revised its beer revenue for the Asian market to merely reach USD 163 billion, down from USD 191 billion in 2019. Initially, beer revenue was expected to grow to over USD 200 billion.

In the third quarter 2020 Heineken’s beer volume decreased organically by 12.3 percent, due to lower volume in Vietnam, and the continued declines in other key markets affected by recurring lockdowns, the lack of international tourism and increasingly negative consumer sentiment.

In Vietnam, Heineken’s sales were down in the high single-digit, following the second wave of covid-19 restrictions and the price increase at the end of June. Still, Heineken managed to become the market leader, implying it has overtaken Sabeco in sales.

In Cambodia, Heineken’s beer volume declined nearly 40 percent, following a steep increase of promotional activity in the market and worsening economic conditions leading to a rise in unemployment.

In Malaysia, Heineken sold 15 percent less beer, an improvement versus the previous quarter, as the on-premise gradually recovered. However, since mid-October the government has imposed new movement restrictions and closed part of the on-premise again.

Beer sales in Indonesia were affected worse. Heineken’s volume almost halved as a second lockdown was imposed. With there being no tourists, beer sales in Bali declined by close to 80 percent.

On the bright side, in South Korea, beer volume increased by 35 percent, while in China it rose in the double digits.

Heineken’s CEO, Dolf van den Brink, said that the brewer was viewing the future with caution, with rolling outbreaks of covid-19 continuing to affect their markets.


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