West Coast New Area

Beer rush brews as nation beats summer heat with festive pints

By WANG ZHUOQIONG in Beijing and XIE CHUANJIAO in Qingdao, Shandong | (China Daily) | 2023-07-17


Visitors at the 33rd Qingdao International Beer Festival, which opened on July 14 in Qingdao, Shandong province.YU FANGPING/FOR CHINA DAILY

Amid intense heat waves this summer, lifestyle-oriented consumers in China are scurrying to beer festivals to slake their thirst — the 24-day 33rd Qingdao International Beer Festival, which opened on July 14 in Qingdao, Shandong province, is their latest destination.

In the ensuing drink rush, they are boosting sales of brewers and unleashing a fresh wave of consumption of a range of products, services, technologies and content, market observers said.

Most significantly, besides beer sales, local tourism is getting a shot in the arm, they said.

From now till August, 50-plus beer festivals are slated to be held in major brewing cities such as Chongqing, Harbin in Heilongjiang province and Qingdao.

On Friday, the Qingdao beer festival recorded reservations for more than 150,000 visits, sources among the organizers said.

The Qingdao festival has introduced more than 2,000 varieties of beer from more than 40 countries and regions. To help visitors enrich their experience, the festival has organized more than 300 music and sports events on the theme of beer.

Pearl River Beer, a brewer based in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, has forecast a rise of 10 percent to 20 percent in its first-half net profit, suggesting the corresponding second-half figure could be even better.

Local government policies aimed at stimulating consumption are not only spurring beer festivals but bolstering local tourism and nighttime consumption, said Zhu Danpeng, a food and beverage analyst in Guangzhou.

Sales of beverages like beer will likely surge given the current spell of heat waves, said Jason Yu, general manager of Kantar Worldpanel China.

In July last year, when similar conditions prevailed in many Chinese cities, beverage sales surged by 14 percent, Kantar data showed.

The Chongqing Beer Festival, which opened on July 8, has already notched up more than 200,000 person times, up 350 percent from non-festival days.

Chongqing Beer, a brand of Carlsberg China, said it has taken part in the beer festival as well as local musical and hotpot festivals. "This year's beer festival is more keen to focus on younger people and on the socializing side," Chongqing Beer said in a statement.

Analyst Zhu said the culture of beer festivals traditionally tended to appeal to the macho side of mostly male consumers. But this year, beer festivals in China have gradually grown into platforms or events for exhibition of trendy lifestyle choices, he said.

"Beer festivals meet the preferences of younger generations, which help further invigorate brands and spur sales," said Zhu.

For instance, Carlsberg China has targeted female consumers with wheat beer 1664 Blanc from France. Somersby, a fruit-flavored beer brand of Carlsberg introduced in China in 2021, has shown robust growth, and has since launched three more flavors.

Bao Ying, quality director of Carlsberg China, said in a recent forum, "Young Chinese consumers, especially the Generation Z (those born between the mid-1990s and the early 2010s), are more interested in seeking unique flavors."

Earlier this month, Sinolink Securities estimated that beer majors in China will likely see a surge in revenue in the second quarter, posting double-digit growth in their profits.