Craft brewer BrewDog agrees new joint venture deal with Budweiser to make beers in China
- BrewDog said China is currently responsible less than 1% of its overall sales
- Beers like Punk IPA will be produced at Budweiser’s craft brewery in Putian
- The joint venture is anticipated to be fully operational by the end of March
Craft beer maker BrewDog is to expand operations in China after forging a tie-up with Budweiser to brew some of its best-selling drinks and open more bars in the country.
The Scottish firm said the joint venture would enable it to capture more of a rapidly growing market, which is already the world’s largest beer consumer and producer, but where less than 1 per cent of its current sales are derived.
Under the arrangement, BrewDog beers, including Punk IPA, Elvis Juice and Hazy Jane, will be manufactured at Budweiser’s craft brewery in Putian, based in the eastern Chinese province of Fujian.
Hosting production in China will also enable it to ‘significantly reduce’ carbon emissions and logistics costs from not importing the beer from Europe, the firm added.
It marks BrewDog’s second joint venture in Asia, with the first launching in Japan in September 2021 as part of a partnership with multinational beverages giant Asahi, the owner of Grolsch and Fuller’s brewery business.
Growth: BrewDog is expanding operations in China through a tie-up with Budweiser
Since announcing the latter deal, the privately held company said its sales in Japan have more than doubled.
James Watt, BrewDog’s chief executive and co-founder, hailed the ‘transformational partnership’ that would help deliver the group’s beers ‘to every corner of the world’s biggest beer market.’
He added: ‘Chinese drinkers love craft beer, but the sector is still very new. In Budweiser China, we have found a partner that shares our growth vision for BrewDog in China and is perfectly placed to support our rapid growth in the region.
‘We’ve always wanted to significantly grow our share in China – this new JV will enable us to do just that as we look to continue to grow our business globally.’
The joint venture is anticipated to be fully operational by the end of March.
Alongside this, BrewDog said it had struck a deal with a Budweiser China affiliate to expand into South Korea and would open multiple new hospitality sites across China by 2026 to add to the sole bar situated in Shanghai.
At the start of last September, the company blamed massive cost hikes, including soaring energy prices, on its decision to close six pubs in London and Scotland.
In a social media post revealing the closures, Watt accused the ‘zombie’ [UK] Government of ‘sheer rabbit in the headlights paralysis’ as he warned the British hospitality sector was at risk of losing half its pubs and bars from rising costs.
Ambitious: BrewDog boss James Watt hailed the ‘transformational partnership’ that would help deliver the group’s beers ‘to every corner of the world’s biggest beer market’
Watt has himself come under fire over multiple scandals in recent years concerning his personal behaviour and BrewDog’s business practices.
Two years ago, a letter signed by a group called ‘Punks with Purpose’ claimed he presided over a culture of fear that had left some employees ‘burnt out, afraid and miserable’ and suffering mental illness.
Watt apologised to those who signed the letter and launched an independent review of the firm’s culture and practices, which included a company-wide salary review, mental health support for staff and an ethics hotline.
But a few months later, a BBC Scotland documentary interviewed former United States-based staff alleging he acted inappropriately with women at work, claims Watt denied.
Soon afterwards, the Guardian newspaper wrote that he had employed private investigators to look into people whom he thought had engaged in a smear campaign against him.
Responding to the reports, Watt said it was necessary to hire the private detectives as he had been the victim of a 2-year plot from ‘malicious individuals’ to damage him and BrewDog.