The State of Belgian Beer
Belgium is one of the world’s largest exporters of beer. Annual production reaches 20 million hectoliters, 70% of which are exported. The biggest drinkers of Belgian beer are France, the United States and the Netherlands. In Asia, its promising markets are China, Korea and Japan. Belgian beer in China has been on the rise for the last ten years due to China’s huge sales potential.
Belgium: A Beer Kingdom in Europe
Though relatively small, Belgium is one of Europe’s leading beer producers. There are over 260 breweries responsible for the total Belgian beer production, with new breweries being founded every year. In fact, Belgium produces a lot more beer than its 11 million population can drink.
Belgian beer-brewing’s origins go back to the Middle Ages. There are over 800 varieties of beer brewed in the country, and all are in high demand. These include pale lager, amber ales, lambic beers, Flemish red ales, sour brown ales, strong ales and stouts.
In 2016, UNESCO included the country’s beer culture on its list representing the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. It cited Belgian beer’s integral role in social and culinary life and how this culture must be preserved.
Belgian Beer in China
China is Asia’s largest consumer of Belgian beers, with imports reaching US$74.2 million. In 2014, export to China rose by 148.9% in terms of volume and has since increased rapidly as demand for specialty brews surge among consumers.
Belgian beers are also widely available in different places in China. The most popular brands of Belgian beer are Stella Artois, Leffe and Duvel. Hoegaarden, a witbier, is popular among Chinese beer drinkers. Chimay, La Chouffe, Liefmans and Vedett also have huge followings.
Rather than cans, most Belgian beers are served in bottles. Some brands even come with their own branded glasses. Overall, China has developed a liking for the fruity, spicy and earthy flavors that beers from Belgium offer.
Belgian beer is widely considered to be among the world’s finest in terms of taste and quality. In China, it enjoys a strong following, just like the other European beers available in the market. The variety of brews from Belgium offers the Chinese consumers plentiful of choices, satisfying even the most selective ones. For brewers, the challenge is to build brand loyalty amidst the increasing competition in the market.