Mr. Ricardo Vasques, Manager Director of AB InBev Vietnam, spoke with VET about the country's beer market and the brewer's plans for the future.
How would you evaluate supply and demand in Vietnam’s beer market recently?
We all know that Vietnam is one of the fastest growing beer markets with large consumption in the region, and the category has been witnessing constantly robust volume growth over the past few years and counting, especially in the premium segment. This is largely due to increases in disposable income and the adoption of Western culture in the region, as well as the availability of beers of different flavors and tastes. So we see great potential for the premium beer segment to grow in the near future.
Furthermore, we understand that as Vietnam’s population keeps on rocketing the middle-to-high class is expanding at a fast pace as well, leading to rising demand for more delicate and premium consumer goods, including beer. People also opt for new consumer choices that can offer them new and unique experiences. This is a market of great potential and an opportunity for both local and international brewers. Thus, we are on our way to convincing Vietnamese beer lovers with our wide range of premium beer brands and the unique American taste of Budweiser produced by long-standing brewing processes and helping them find the beer they want and the best way to enjoy their beer properly; a very different way to experience beer with a full taste and of the best quality because unique taste and superior quality are the most outstanding advantages of AB InBev’s products.
AB InBev has opened a new brewery in southern Binh Duong province that aims to produce two brands: Budweiser and Beck’s. Can you tell us what market segment the two brands will focus on? Is the brewery only serving the Vietnamese market or is AB InBev also looking to export?
Both Budweiser and Beck’s will focus on the premium segment.
The products brewed here will primarily serve the Vietnamese market and we will use this to approach other markets in the area. We believe that by bringing the quality and proposal that we have in terms of bringing the experience of Budweiser to consumers, there is further room for us not only to grow Budweiser in Vietnam with this facility but also to further grow production in Vietnam for the local market. On the other hand, Vietnam as a production base for export is definitely included in our development plans in the very near future. Because of the privileged position Vietnam has geographically, and Ho Chi Minh City as a distribution hub for the rest of Southeast Asia, products produced here will also be exported to other countries, including ASEAN and even India in the future.
Why did AB InBev choose Vietnam for the new brewery?
Asia-Pacific is now the third largest region of AB InBev in terms of volume and Vietnam is considered the next turning point for us in Southeast Asia. Vietnam is the sixth largest market in Asia for beer in terms of profit, together with Australia, Japan, China, the Philippines and South Korea. It has a strong beer culture, a friendly business environment, a very competitive labor force, and is strategically located within the ASEAN region to reach the world’s first-class active trade centers. Thus, Vietnam no doubt plays an important role for AB InBev’s growth in the region in the long run and we are committed to invest to develop the market by offering quality and premium products and experiences to our consumers.
What targets has AB InBev set for Vietnam? And what strategy will it use to reach its targets?
For now, we are investing significantly this year with our new state-of-the-art brewery in Binh Duong, which is expected to serve Vietnamese consumers the same superior quality and fresh products. Specifically for Vietnam, we will focus on offering Vietnamese consumers the consistently superior quality products of AB InBev. The new brewery will brew, package and distribute the freshest, highest quality Budweiser and Beck’s beer to local consumers in Vietnam.
The brewery is meant to set our footprint in Vietnam. The establishment of the brewery serves as a symbol of our long-term commitment to Vietnam. This year and in the years to come we have a rigid plan to invest significantly in expanding our already strong footprint in this market, continuing to bring more exciting and world-class experiences to local consumers in more and more cities and officially launching more world-class premier beer to Vietnamese beer lovers like Beck’s or Budweiser draught beer in July/August.
We will also partner with the government to run our responsible drinking initiative.
With many beer brands having entered or planned to enter the market soon, how will you deal with the fierce competition?
With many brands in the market, of course competition is foreseeable. However, we also believe that challenges always open doors to amazing opportunities.
We have strong confidence in our company’s heritage and the market favor for Budweiser has been proven in the last few years, as Vietnamese consumers are really excited with the beer. Furthermore, our unique portfolio of brands will not only deliver world-class premium quality to consumers but also differentiated experiences. We believe this momentum will set a strong foundation for us to keep introducing new superior quality products and international premium experiences that we tailor for Vietnam right now and in the near future.