While tea shops remain Myanmar’s venue of choice for leisure, international brewers are hoping that the country’s consumers will soon be reaching for beer mugs instead as they expand their Southeast Asian presence.
In early February, Carlsberg announced a joint venture with Myanmar Golden Star to construct a brewery in Bago: about 80 kilometres (50 miles) outside of Yangon. Carlsberg will be a 51 percent shareholder of the newly formed Myanmar Carlsberg Co Ltd.
According to Myanmar Carlsberg chairman U Thant Zin Tun, primary construction, levelling of the foundation and laying a new road has begun at the site for a 1 million hectrolitre facility. He said full construction will begin within three months, with a scheduled completion date of June or July 2014.
“We expect that the Myanmar beer market will grow strongly in coming years as the economy expands,” said Roy Bagattini, head of Carlsberg Asia.
The planned Myanmar brewery will be Carlsberg’s ninth in the ASEAN region. The company operates two in Laos, one in Cambodia, four in Vietnam and one in Malaysia. The existing facilities have a production capacity of 1.25 billion litres.
The deal ended a rough year for the world’s fourth largest brewery. On February 18, the group posted 2012 figures that fell short for industry analysts’ expectations, signalling stalled growth that sent stock prices diving.
Performance was hampered in Western Europe by an unseasonably cold and damp summer, along with challenging consumer habits and economic performance, the company’s financial report said.
In Russia, Carlsberg’s second largest market where it took full control of leading brewery Baltika in November 2012, increased government restrictions on where beer can be bought and advertising limited growth of sales to 2pc in a flat market.
“The Group delivered a good performance in 2012, despite a challenging Western European beer market,” said Carslberg’s chief executive officer Jorgen Buhl Rasmussen.
“In Asia, we continue to deliver impressive growth and strengthen our market positions,” he said, citing particularly strong volume growth in ASEAN member-states Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and Malaysia.
He added that in 2013, “We will look to capitalise on the attractive growth opportunities available.”