Beer in a new gear

China is not only the second largest economy on the planet it is alsothe largest beer market, and growing. A few years ago China surpassed the US as the main beer guzzler and that will be hard to change given that the Chinese only consume an average 31 litres per capita. That is far from the 79 litres the average American consumes yearly. China is a growing market while Russia used to be a growing market for beer. The Russian beer market is struggling with the effects of the recession and is then hit with a new tax increase, a sobering rise of 200% on all beer from this year on.  This will not help developing the market in the short term. Estimates of a 10% decrease of this year’s sales have been recorded.

Beer in China

It was a few years back in time when China took over the position as the largest beer country from the US. In 2003 more beer was officially consumed in China than in the US, the former beer giant. Beer consumption in the US is stagnant while in China it is booming, like so much else in the new land of hope and glory. From a packaging perspective however the Chinese situation is a gigantic opportunity, for everyone, as 95% of the volume is in refillable glass bottles.

Now the country consequently, within a couple of years, is going to become also the largest market for packaging machinery.  This through an outstandingly rapid growth and it obviously makes sense given the size and potential of the market.

Everything is growing but the big question is what will be the beer container preferred in a few years time? The market is developing fast and does not necessarily have to go through all the phases we have seen in the developed world. The market can go straight to whatever it pleases, PET bottles or cans or one-way glass bottles. That is the big question and probably it will be a bit of everything in the end but it is all determined now. It is now that the market is buying packaging machines and filling lines. What they invest in now will set the future pack-mix.