Snow: AB Inbev could acquire the biggest beer in the world

It has 98 breweries and says it accounts for more than one in every five cans or bottles of beer sold in China.

Zlata Rodionova
Friday 16 October 2015 16:49
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Customers drink beer in the Tsingtao beer museum  brewery on May 17, 2009 in Tsingtao beer street, in the town of Qingdao, Shandong province, China.
Customers drink beer in the Tsingtao beer museum brewery on May 17, 2009 in Tsingtao beer street, in the town of Qingdao, Shandong province, China.

Snow is the top selling beer brand in the world since 2008 in terms of volume, although you might never heard of it if you live outside of China.

Launched by SABMiller and its state-owned partner China Resources Enterprise, Snow sold as much as 110 million hectolitres of beer in 2012. This is enough to fill around 12 Olympic-sized swimming pools with beer every day, for a year, according to SABMiller.

Today, it has 98 breweries and says it accounts for more than one in every five cans or bottles of beer sold in China.

Snow’s primary advantage is that it is sold in China - the world’s largest beer market. Total Chinese beer sales are expected to rise 2.6 percent this year to 52.2 billion liters (13.6 billion gallons), or more than double the global forecast of 1 per cent growth, according to Euromonitor.

“No one outside China knows what Snow is, but it is the biggest brand in the world," said industry analyst Spiros Malandrakis of Euromonitor.

Snow beer

The Snow brand has now attracted attention since it can become a potential prize for AB InBev in its takeover of SABMiller, which was announced on October 14 for a record $68 billion.

SABMiller has a leading position with a 49 per cent stake in Snow. The joint venture sold 11.8 billion litres (3 billion gallons) of suds last year, or more than one out of every 20 glasses drunk worldwide. That could dramatically expand AB InBev's Chinese footprint, which already includes Budweiser, Beck's and Stella Artois.

InBev's Anheuser-Busch unit has 39 beverage plants and 26,000 employees in China, where it has operated since 1984.

A merged company would control more than 40 per cent of China's beer market, according to Song Tao, an analyst for Guotai Jun'an International, a Chinese brokerage.

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