Kirin wants to open more craft beer factories in North America because of its strong growth.
Kirin Holdings, which is Japan’s second-largest brewer, wants to buy factories in North America so it can keep up with the strong growth of the craft beer market there, its CEO said.
Since Kirin bought New Belgium Brewing in Colorado in 2019 and Bell’s Brewery in Michigan in 2021, sales of craft beer in North America have gone up by double-digit percentages.
In an interview with Reuters on Tuesday, CEO Yoshinori Isozaki said, “Our craft beer business in North America is doing great.”
Related: Investor 3D wants Sapporo Holdings’s outside directors to try to change the business.
He also said that North American craft beer is now the most profitable part of the company’s global business, which includes everything from whisky to probiotic health drinks. He didn’t say what the profit margins were, though.
Bell’s Two Hearted Ale was named the best beer in America by the American Homebrewers Association.Fat Tire ale is made by New Belgium. In 2021, when they merged, they became one of the top 10 craft companies in the United States.
Kirin sold about 60 billion yen ($454 million) worth of craft beer in the year that ended in March. This was about 3% of the company’s sales around the world. This year, the company thinks that number will go up to 5%.
Production and distribution in a market as big as North America are still hard, though. Isozaki, who has been in charge of Kirin since 2015, said that the company is thinking about buying facilities from other craft breweries that are struggling and have extra space.
Competitors Asahi Group Holdings Ltd. and Suntory Holdings are also looking to grow in North America. This is because Japan’s beer market is shrinking because the population is getting older and fewer young people are drinking.
Kirin established a strong presence in Australia after purchasing the Lion Nathan brewery in 2009.The Lion subsidiary now runs the global craft beer operations for the conglomerate.
Isozaki said that the company also wants to grow in other parts of Asia and in North America, where it sells health supplements.
Related: Prices are going up and plastic bottles will make Japanese people less interested in Beaujolais Nouveau.
In Japan, where high inflation has been going on for decades because of rising energy costs and a weaker yen, Kirin raised the prices of its canned beers in October for the first time since 2008. It has also made imported wines and spirits more expensive.
Isozaki said that Kirin might have to raise prices again next year if the Ukraine crisis and its effect on costs keep going on. He also said that the company is getting ready to raise wages, which is a key goal of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, but he didn’t say how much the wages might go up.
“In terms of workers, I think we should think about raising wages just to keep up with the rising prices of goods and services.”
($1 = 132.1400 yen)