A-B Doubles Distribution to China

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A-B Doubles Distribution to China

ST. LOUIS -- Anheuser-Busch's (A-B) Budweiser brand will become more present in China, with the company's plans to double beer distribution in the country and build a brewing facility in China's Guangdong province, the company said last week.

The beer manufacturer will bring the Budweiser brand to an additional 100 Chinese cities, with the potential of reaching 150 million new beer drinkers. The company also has plans to offer Harbin premium brands to 33 new markets in 2007.

"As the largest-volume and fastest-growing beer market in the word, China remains one of our most important international priorities," said August A. Busch IV, president and chief executive of A-B.

The brewery, located in Foshan, China, is expected to be completed by late 2008, with a price tag of $63 million.

China's beer market surpassed the U.S. as the world's biggest in 2002. The market grew 15 percent last year, the third consecutive year of double digit volume growth, the company stated.

A-B came to China in 1995 with a brewery in the city of Wuhan. In 2004, the company beat SABMiller PLC for north China brewer Harbin Brewery Group, Ltd., a century old beer maker.

One year later, the company tripled its equity stake in China's Tsingtao Brewery Co., the country's largest brewer. Currently, A-B holds a 27-percent stake in Tsingtao.

In other A-B news, the company's industrywide "Here's to Beer" campaign celebrated the history of America's connection with beer in "The American Brew," which aired at 10 p.m. April 7 on A&E.

The program addressed topics from the Colonial settlers who landed in America and the first beer recipes, which often included plants from the local area, to the rise of national breweries, prohibition in the 1920s and today's microbreweries.

The hourlong show takes place on the 74th anniversary of the repeal of prohibition for beer, which had made the country dry from alcohol for 13 years.

The film, which was produced by filmmaker Roger Sherman, will be available nationwide April 9.

"Since the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock through today, beer has been woven into the fabric of America," said Robert C. Lackey, executive vice president of global industry development, A-B. "The 'Here’s to Beer' program is about sharing the rich traditions of the American beer story."