Big Beer's Future? Asia

Yesterday's Wall Street Journal featured a piece on how MolsonCoors is belatedly trying to catch up with multinational titans.  The company recently picked up StarBev (you know, the guys who own Noroc and Kamenitza) and will become the world's 7th largest beer conglomerate.  (These entities aren't "breweries" in any meaningful sense.)  But here's the thing I found interesting.  After the usual names, InBev, SABMiller, Heineken, and Carlsberg, there are some interesting names on the list: China Resources Enterprise and Beijing Yangjin.  Indeed, four of the top ten are Asian companies.

This is remarkable. The WSJ article says analysts predict 5% growth in the Chinese market over the next few years--and I would call that a conservative estimate.  But even at that rate, the growth will be staggering.  The Chinese market is only in its infancy.  Almost no one drinks beer there, and yet it's already the world's biggest market. With five percent (compounding) growth on top of the world's biggest market, buckets of money are just lying around for the enterprising multinational.  Europe's market is mature and the population stagnant, and the North American market for big beer is shrinking.  For major breweries, the Chinese market represents horizons available nowhere else in the world.  I wouldn't be surprised to see six or seven Asian brands on this list in a decade.