New Zealand’s Cassels Brewery Send Third Beer Shipment to China

New Zealand and Christchurch’s very own Cassels Brewery has sent its second shipment of beer to China even in the midst of the coronavirus.

Alisdair Cassels, director of Cassels Brewing Company believes there is a future in the Chinese craft beer market even though the country and many of the people are in lockdown.

Selection of Cassels Beer Range

“We asked our agent over there if we should keep sending beer or direct it to England but he said yes, that this would be just a two months thing”, Caseels said.

“Life will keep moving forward”.

Cassels signature beer might just be their Milk Stout which won the title of World’s Best Milk Stout at the 2019 World Beer Awards. The beer retails in China at 10 times the cost of a regular domestic beer but Cassels are targeting the higher end of the craft beer market.

The global craft beer market makes up around 10% of the market, that figure for China is 1%. Cassels believe that the craft beer sector in China can grow.

Casesels said “There is a huge potential for growth”.

The first container was shipped in February this year which was the culmination of 18 months work to crack the Chinese market. Each container has $100,000 worth of beer which is a big investment for Cassels.

“If you have on your label that you are the best stout in the world, as we do, it is a pretty easy sell” said Daniele Danesin the Cassels Head Brewer.

Daniele also went on to say “New Zealand needs to remember that people overseas are looking for something different. We need to always appear bigger, there is a huge potential there”.

The award winning Cassels Milk Stout

Annual beer consumption in China is huge at 45.7 billion litres, twice as much as the United States and when you factor in that right now the craft beer market is at 1% a as we said before. There are reasons to be optimistic but with Covid-19 can Cassels and other craft beer importers into China still be hopeful in the market?

Indications from Anheuser-Busch are not promising, they are reported a major reduction in on-premise and in-home channels to their investors on February 28th. “For the first two months of 2020, we estimate that the outbreak resulted in lost revenue of approximately $285 million USD”.

As of Friday 20th 2020, China is slowly starting to get back to normality in many parts of the country with bars and pubs opening but with reduced capacity in many instances. People are starting to go back to work and we shall see what the next months bring for the Chinese craft beer scene.

Initial indications are positive with several craft beer producers within China believing that they should be in the black this month and be able to put money in the bank. This will be a welcome relief after 2 months of shutdown with little income but still having to pay their staff and rent.

There are reasons to be cautiously optimistic…

Neil Playfoot

Neil is a brewer with 25 years international brewing experience. Based out of China (first came in 2010) he works as a brewing consultant helping brewers with their projects and brewing processes. To find out what services Neil can provide your brewery please click here. If you'd like to contact Neil you can email at
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