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Thursday, December 07, 2006

SABMiller Enjoys the Snow in China

(Photo courtesy of Vismedia.)

SABMiller Plc, the London-based brewing giant, has a number of big brands in markets around the globe, but which one do you think is the biggest? Miller Lite? Castle Lager? Pilsner Urquell? All good picks, but all wrong.

SABMiller's new top dog is a lager from China called Snow.

SABMiller holds a 49 percent stake in China Resources Snow Breweries. Sales of the Snow brand are up 91 percent through the first nine months of the year, rocketing the brand into the elite among big brews around the globe even though few people outside of China have ever tasted the product.

Budweiser from the U.S., Skol from Brazil and Corona from Mexico are ahead of Snow in world beer volumes, but it appears fairly certain that the brand will pass Brahma from Brazil, Coors from the U.S., Heineken from the Netherlands, Miller Lite from the U.S. and Asahi from Japan among the 2006 global sales leaders. Not bad considering it was just last year when Snow passed Tsingtao to become the largest brand in China.

SABMiller says that further consolidation of the Chinese brewing industry is required to make operating in the country more efficient. The country has 536 breweries. The company noted that a bomber sized 640 ml bottle of beer in China typically sells for around 12-cents. That results in the fact that while Snow accounts for 18 percent of SABMiller's volume, it contributes just 5 percent of the company's profits.

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