Heavy competition behind the allure: Vietnam’s beer market

The Vietnamese beer market is considered a promised land for both foreign and local brewers due to the massive consumption. However, in reality, it is a playground with strict competition.

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According to statistics from Euromonitor, the global beer consumption volume remains unchanged since last year, while beer consumption in Vietnam soared. Notably, in 2008, Vietnam ranked 8th in Asia in terms of the volume of beer consumed, however, after eight years, Vietnam now stands at the third position, following Japan and China.

According to statistics from Viet Capital Securities, the Vietnamese beer sector is dominated by four brewers, namely Habeco, 100% Carlsberg-owned Hue Brewery, Sabeco, and Heineken NV. These four entities hold 90% of the market, while the remaining 10% is divided among Masan Brewery, Sapporo, AB InBev, and Calsberg-owned Southeast Asia Brewery.

While Habeco, Hue Brewery, and Sabeco dominate the market in the northern, central, and southern regions, respectively, Heineken NV holds dominion in the high-end and medium beer segments.

According to a report of the Vietnam Beverage Association, in 2017 Vietnam sold four billion litres of beer, equalling an average of 45 litres per people per year. Besides, Vietnam set the target the output of 4.1 billion litres of beer by 2020 and 5.5 billion litres by 2035.

Despite the beer sector having great potential to exploit, only a number of brewers are operating at massive profits.

According to enternews.vn, Nguyen Van Viet, chairman of VBA, stated that despite Japanese brewer Sapporo seeing an increase in sales volume, the production expenses as well as the advertisement programmes reduced profit heavily.

Additionally, numerous players failed in this playground and had to leave. Notably, in July 2006, Asia Pacific Breweries bought two Vietnamese breweries from Foster's Group in a deal worth US$105 million.

Besides, SABMiller co-operated with Vinamilk to establish a US$45-million joint venture to develop a brewery in the southern province of Binh Duong. The brewery was expected to start operations in 2007 with the initial capacity of 50 million litres per year.

The capacity was expected to double if the plant goes well. However, the joint venture faced difficulties in competing with existing beer products. As a result, Vinamilk had to transfer its entire holding in the joint venture to SABMiller after only two years.

In October 2015, AB InBev spent US$106 billion on acquiring SABMiller's global operations, including SABMiller in Vietnam. At present, SABMiller's products just make up a small portion of the market in the domestic beer sector.

In spite of massive spending on advertisements, Habeco reported decreases in both revenue and profit in the first three quarters of 2017.

According to the corporation’s financial report in the third quarter of last year, Habeco earned VND3 trillion (US$131.8 million) in revenue and VND317 billion (US$13.9 million) in after-tax profit, signifying decreases of 18 and 27%, respectively, the greatest plunge during the year.

Notably, in the nine months of last year, Habeco’s revenue decreased to VND7.2 trillion (US$316.3 million) and after-tax profit decreased by 17%, to VND613 billion (US$26.9 million).

According to the 2017 consolidated business results, Habeco reported a net revenue of VND9.8 trillion (US$430.4 million), a decrease of 2% on-year and a decrease of 4.9% in pre-tax profit to VND972.6 billion (US$2.7 million).

VIR

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