CHINESE BREWERY WINNING THE HEARTS OF BEER CONSUMERS IN ISLAMIC PAKISTAN
By Tony Zhu
Chinese beer brands Hui Cheng and HungChi (Red Flag) rapidly gained popularity among Pakistan’s consumers, their producer is churning out up to 100,000 litres of beer every day in the pre-dominantly Muslim country only one year after start of operation.
Produced by Chinese-owned Hui Coastal Brewery and Distillery (HCBD) based in Pakistan’s western province of Balochistan, fans said that it is the brands’ high alcohol content, colourful packaging and easy availability that attracted them.
HCBD applied for permit to build the plant in 2016 and was granted a licence in 2018. The company started production last year, with a capacity of 65,000 to 100,000 litres daily.
HCBD originally targeted the Chinese people who are working on the China Pakistan Economic Corridor projects, but their products have unexpectedly become very popular among locals.
The plant supplies beer to large parts of the Balochistan province, along with the southern province of Sindh and the commercial hub of Karachi.
The company has so far launched three product lines, apart from the flagship Hui Cheng brand, there is also the HungChi Special Brew and HungChi Amber Lager, all with high alcohol content from 5 to 8 percent.
A Karachi-based Hindu alcohol seller told German DW news agency that the Chinese beers are particularly popular among Pakistan’s middle and elite classes.
A resident of Hub in Balochistan province told DW that the high alcohol content is especially attractive for those who try it for the first time and really want to get drunk.
He added that being produced by a foreign company with colourful packaging also made the beers more attractive.
Another Balochistan local told DW that he has tasted these beers more than 100 times, and all of his close friends have tried these brands as well.
More than 96 percent of Pakistan’s population are Muslims who are supposedly not allowed to consume alcohol.
However, non-Muslim residents in Pakistan are allowed to buy, sell and consume alcohol and Muslim consumers can always buy alcohol from the non-Muslim sellers.
Pakistan has a permit system for alcoholic drink production, the permit is available to non-Muslims only, but sometimes even Muslims can get a permit on medical grounds.
Liquor production used to be monopolised by a few companies including Murree Brewery, which is a Karach-listed company with products ranging from beers to whiskies.
With the entrance of the Chinese invested HCBD, which is licensed to make distilled spirits as well, competition in Pakistan’s alcoholic drinks production sector will certainly get more intense.
(the writer can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org)
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