In recent years, the beer and wine industry has been gaining an increasing amount of market share within China. Although still an early market, the rise in consumption power and the growth of demand for more premium craft beers has started to catapult the Chinese beer market. Despite being in its early stages, China is still one of the biggest beer markets in the world. Beer was introduced into China since the 1900s through German brewers that used to inhabit the Chinese island of Qingdao. Currently, Qingdao is host to one of the biggest beer festivals in the world. Many other beer festivals have become more commonplace such as the Kunming beer festival held in September which lasts around 16 days as well as Saint Patrick’s Day which is common during March. The aforementioned influences as well as a thriving expat community within China have led to the tastes and demands of the locals to become more sophisticated.

Chinese Beer Consumption

Many of the younger Chinese generation are more open about drinking beer than Chinese spirits with the rise of beer based events such as Saint Patrick’s day or Oktoberfest. China has the largest beer market in the world with an annual intake of 45.7 billion liters which is double the US intake and more than 5 times Germany, which holds the largest beer market in the EU. Also beer takes up 75% of the total amount of alcohol consumption in terms of volume within China. Beer imports to China have also been growing at a large pace over the last 5 years with 3/4 of the imports coming from Europe. This largely stems from the fact that European beers are considered more premium and have a better quality.

Sophisticated Consumer

Previously we talked about how on the commercial side, Chinese FITs have a much higher spending power and interest in foreign traditions. Movies, expats, TV shows, travel documentaries in China may also be a big influence for Chinese consumers. In the past, the Chinese consumers did not like the bitter taste of IPAs or black beers and only drank the casual larger or pilsner, however in a few years’ time there has been a large shift with local breweries like the Great Leap Brewery based in Beijing or Shanghai Brewery, offering locals a more premium and complex flavor that Chinese people have never experienced before. Other breweries even export abroad and try to compete to change the perception that Chinese beer is cheap and of lower quality. Many brewers go to Belgium, Germany, Ireland, Scotland, and Czech Republic to get a better understanding of brewing processes while seeking to find a more unique yet Chinese style of beer. Many Chinese millennials are more aware of different types of beers and actually try to learn why it is so. They are open to beer tours, tastings, and especially large cultural events involving food and beverage like Christmas dinners, thanksgiving dinners, and Oktoberfest.

Beer festivals for Chinese

As mentioned in previous articles, Chinese FITs are very curious about having a more authentic experience that is not available within China. Chinese FITs often travel to Europe to experience the local beer culture whether it is the Heineken Experience in Amsterdam or the Ghent Beer Museum in Ghent. Currently Saint Patrick’s Day has already passed but there is still some time to make some changes for Oktoberfest. Since the first week of October is marked by the National day golden week holiday, in China, many Oktoberfest events actually start in mid to late September or only last a few days. Beer being an integral part of Chinese youth has surged interest into Oktoberfest and other beer festivals that take place in a more authentic European setting. Chinese people are more open about beer culture as it has become an essential part of introduction into drinking. Among these Chinese FITs include party goers that move from city to city to get to know the local traditions and happenings. If you are interested in bringing in more Chinese FITs to your business or event, please refer to our previous articles on how to plan and market your European businesses for Chinese FITs. Below are some of our other beer partners: