Big Plans Brewing for Myanmar Beer

By Kyaw Hsu Mon 26 August 2015

RANGOON — Burma’s largest beer maker, military-owned Myanmar Brewery Ltd., aims to increase its annual production by 50 percent in the years ahead, the company announced on Wednesday.

Following a recent partnership with Japan’s Kirin Holdings, the company’s chairman Nay Win said the new joint venture will try to raise its output from 2 to 3 million hectoliters annually to accommodate growing demand in Burma’s emerging beverage market.

“Demand and supply are out of balance in the local market, the demand is always higher, so we plan to brew more beer from now on,” Nay Win said at a press conference in Rangoon on Wednesday.

Fear not, the chairman said: While the new partnership will help to increase production and improve marketing, the quality of Burma’s signature brew will not be affected.

Kirin Holdings announced last week that it had acquired a 55 percent stake in the company from Singaporean Fraser & Neave after a longstanding dispute between the firm and the brewery’s parent enterprise, Union of Myanmar Economic Holdings Ltd. (UMEHL).

A Singaporean arbitration court ordered earlier this month that UMEHL pay US$560 million for the shares, after a buyout was authorized on the grounds that a new shareholder structure violated their initial 1995 agreement. A controlling stake of Fraser & Neave had recently been purchased by Thai business mogul Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi, the founding chairman of Chang producer Thai Beverage.

Myanmar Brewery is the maker of Myanmar Beer, Andaman Gold and Myanmar Double Strong, and currently has a strong lead in the domestic beer game. While newcomers to Burma’s beverage market could impact consumer choices, chairman Nay Win said he was confident the company would maintain its stride at 80 percent of all sales nationwide.

Kirin’s Hiroshi Fujikawa said at Wednesday’s conference that the new joint venture also intends to develop its international reach by increasing exports, which are relatively low at present.

Myanmar Brewery’s total revenue totaled 300 billion kyats (US$233 million) for the 2014-14 fiscal year, according to company figures. The brewery manufactures in Rangoon’s Mingaladon Township.