JAPAN – Japanese brewer Sapporo will resume its exports to China through a distribution partnership with AB InBev, as it aims to target the premium beer segment.

According to FoodBev, China is the world’s largest beer market and Sapporo drew attention to the premium segment, including imported beer brands, which it says is exhibiting “dramatic growth”.

The company is targeting sales of one million cases (20 x 633ml bottles) in 2022 through the collaboration and it hopes to establish its Sapporo Premium Beer brand in the expanding Chinese market.

Products will go in sale in early November 2018 in cities mainly on along China’s eastern seaboard, including Shanghai and Beijing.

“Given the recent popularity of Japanese brands fueled by growth of the Japanese food market and the increase in foreign tourists to Japan, the company has determined that now is the right time to re-enter the market and launch sales consignments through a master distributor contract with ABI that commands a dominating market presence in the premium segment,” said a statement from Sapporo.

Heineken has also sought to profit from the growth of China’s premium beer segment.

Earlier this year it secured a deal to acquire a 40% interest in the company that controls China’s largest brewer.

As part of the agreement, Heineken has taken a minority stake in CRH Beer, China Resources Beer’s parent company, for US$3.1 billion.

Last year Sapporo expanded its international presence with the acquisition of San Francisco-based craft beer maker Anchor Brewing for US$85 million.