Brewing innovations in APAC’s beer industry

August 5, 2022
4 min read

For this year’s International Beer Day, we look at some of the latest product innovations in APAC’s beer landscape, from sustainability to novelty flavours and added functional health benefits.

Fighting climate change with beer and algae: Australia

Local brewery Young Henrys and climate change scientists from the University of Technology Sydney have developed a way to use microalgae to cut carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions during fermentation. 

In the traditional brewing process, yeast turns sugar into alcohol and CO2 as it ferments and turns into beer. In Young Henrys’ process, that CO2 is fed to microalgae which then transform it into oxygen. 

Source: Young Henrys

With an urgent need for action towards reversing or slowing down environmental degradation, consumers will look to brands to help them make purposeful decisions, as explained in Mintel 2022 Consumer Trend Climate Complexity. Therefore, brands will be expected to make tangible sustainability action plans and follow through with their targets.

Chinese floral flavoured beer: China

In China, beer brands are tapping the female market to extend their consumer base. Female consumers generally favour traditional beer less, though they do find exotic flavours attractive. 

Other than providing a refreshing taste through flavour innovation, some Chinese brands also incorporate the trendy guochao (国潮) concept into flavour innovation and packaging design to win consumers’ affinity. Mintel data shows that 59% of Chinese consumers express a preference for products, services and lifestyles with Chinese cultural elements.

Source: Mintel GNPD

For example, Yanjing Beer launched an osmanthus flavoured beer. The flower has a long history of cultivation in China and is featured widely in classical literature, thus earning consumers’ natural goodwill and familiarity.

Local-inspired beer flavours: India

Beer company Bira 91 has launched four new beer flavours as part of a limited edition “Imagined in India” portfolio. The flavours feature popular Indian regional tastes like the sour kokum fruit from South Indian Konkan coast and the sweet mango “Lassi” from North India. The portfolio also gives popular American flavours an Indian twist, such as the ‘Bollywood IPA’, inspired by the California-born West Coast IPA (India Pale Ale), and ‘Brown Ale’, which has a hint of tropical coconut and vanilla.

Source: Bira 91

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, consumers expect brands to support the local community and celebrate their culture for a shared sense of identity, as explored in the Mintel Trend Locavore. Furthermore, 4 in 5 Indians say that they try to buy from local companies where possible. Unconventional flavours and international varieties (such as IPA, pilsner and pale ale) tailored to suit Indian tastes can drive consumption as part of social experiences.

Gut-friendly beer: Singapore

Foodtech startup Probicient and Singapore’s oldest craft brewery Brewerkz launched the ‘world’s first’ probiotic beer in March this year. The Red Billion Probiotic Raspberry Sour contains 4.5% alcohol by volume and a probiotics level of at least one billion CFU (Colony Forming Unit) per serving (which is the minimum amount of dosage needed to be considered to be an effective probiotic). It has since then expanded its range to include other flavours like Golden Ale and India Pale Ale, among others.

Source: Probicient

As consumers are growing more conscious and particular about the food and drive that they consume, this has also created a demand for better-for-you products. The health benefits of probiotics – notably their ability to improve and restore gut flora – have brought many niche delicacies like kimchi and kombucha into the mainstream. This gut-friendly beer can meet consumers’ demand for health and wellness benefits while also fitting well into the changing consumption preferences of beer and alcohol in general.

Beer and fried chicken pairing: South Korea

Fried chicken and beer – known locally as “chimaek” – is a popular food pair among Koreans, so much so that major chicken brands have come up with their own beer brands.  One example is Chi-eers! Chicken Ale by local chicken franchise BBQ in partnership with Jeju Beer. This strategy of offering exclusive combo special that can only be availed from their store can elevate chimaek’s appeal.

Source: Mintel GNPD

With more than half (58%) of Korean consumers saying they love trying new experiences, co-branded launches (in addition to seasonal and limited editions) can keep consumers engaged with the category and cater to the shift in beer consumption trends.

For more insights on the beer market, check out our latest reports here.

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