Though Vietnam produces billions of liters of beer a year, such volume does not seem sufficient as breweries have shown little sign of keeping local beer production and importation unchanged, the Saigon Times Daily reported.

Vietnam’s beer market actually looks far from saturation since leading global beer brands are still entering the local market, making competition tougher.

Market shares of many domestic beer companies are in decline though their production volumes are high, said Nguyen Mau Chi, General Director of Hue Brewery Ltd., known for the brand Huda Hue.

According to Chi, the strong players on the market are Saigon Beer, Alcohol and Beverage Corporation (Sabeco), Vietnam Brewery Limited (VBL), Hanoi Beer, Alcohol and Beverage Corporation (Habeco), Huda and Japan’s Sapporo.

Statistics of the Vietnam Beer, Alcohol and Beverage Association (VBA) showed that Sabeco, which has reported steady growth in recent years, saw its volume in the year’s first half falling by 0.5 percent. The market share of Habeco dropped by a sharper 4.8 percentage points against last year’s same period.

Meanwhile, though Huda Hue achieved steady growth in the 2005-2012 period, its growth slowed down last year.

Huda Hue sold nearly 60 million liters of beer in 2005 but saw its sales move up to 291 million liters in 2012 before falling to only 200 million liters last year.

Starting as a 100-percent State-owned company, Huda Hue then cooperated with Carlsberg Group and was wholly owned by this Danish brewery in 2011.

Japanese brewery Sapporo entered Vietnam in 2010 and its factory in Long An province was put into operation one year later with an annual capacity of 40 million liters.

Not revealing the specific consumption volume, Hirofumi Kishi, General Director of Sapporo Vietnam, said that Sapporo’s sales doubled last year.

Hirofumi Kishi told the Daily that Sapporo would increase the factory’s capacity to 100 million liters in the coming time and 150 million liters in 2019.

To realise such a target, Sapporo has developed over 5,000 sales points, most of them in Ho Chi Minh City and southern provinces. Hanoi is a market the brewery is directing at and the expansion to Hanoi is just a matter of time.

VBA has recorded a steady increase in the country’s total beer production over the past years, with over 2.6 billion liters produced domestically in 2011, over 2.83 billion liters in 2012 and over three billion liters last year. The beer production volume in this year’s first half reached around 1.4 billion and the year’s final figure is likely to be higher than that of last year as beer normally goes well at year-end.

According to the association, domestic breweries exported nearly 63 million liters of beer and imported over 442,000 liters last year.-VNA