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Beer mEconomic downturn boosts beer consumption in Vietnamakers in Vietnam produced 2.67 billion litres between January-November, up 7.8% over the corresponding period last year, according to the Vietnam Beer, Alcohol and Beverage Association (VBA).

The country’s two biggest producers, Saigon Beer Corporation (Sabeco) and Hanoi Beer Company (Habeco), turned out 1.19 billion litres and 490.0 million litres, up 5.7% and 9.4%, respectively.

The association said December output would be 270,000-280,000 litres, bringing total production in 2013 to some 3 billion litres.

With this momentum, output is expected to increase to 3.3 billion litres in 2014 and 3.6 billion in 2015, said VBA’s Vice General Secretary Le Ba Co.

Beer consumption is expected to rise sharply during Tet, so beverage companies are increasing production capacity.

Market survey company Eurowatch announced in May that Vietnamese people consumed 3 billion litres of beer in 2012. Each Vietnamese person drank an average of 32 litres, making the country the third-largest per capita consumer in Asia, just behind China and Japan.

Vietnam’s per capita income in 2012 was US$1,540.

Vietnam was also among the world’s top 25 beer-consuming nations last year, according to Kirin Holdings Co., a major Japanese brewer.

Consumption rose highest in Nigeria (17.2%), followed by India (17%), Brazil (16%) and Vietnam (15%).

Luong Hoang Thai, Head of the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s Multilateral Commercial Department, said joining the trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) will give local beer producers a chance to attract more investment but will also pose a significant challenge.

Many TPP member countries such as the US, Japan, Canada, Mexico and Chile have advantages in exporting beverages. Without an import tax, local products might not be able to compete.

The Saigon Beer Corporation and Hanoi Beer Company, which account for two-thirds of the local beer market, could be threatened by cheaper imports of popular foreign brands like Sapporo from Japan and ABInBev from the US.

People stick to local brews because they are cheap and of decent quality, Thai said, warning that when living standards inevitably improved, many people would shift to foreign beers – especially if they are sold at cheaper prices.

Global beverage firms Pepsi and Coca-Cola already dominate the local non-alcoholic beverage market. Tan Hiep Phat is the only domestic producer that can stand up to their market power.

VNA/VOV online

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