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Heineken cracks open a new local beer production facility

A person picks out a bottle of Heineken beer at a mini-mart near Kandal Market in Phnom Penh yesterday.
A person picks out a bottle of Heineken beer at a mini-mart near Kandal Market in Phnom Penh yesterday. Hong Menea

Heineken cracks open a new local beer production facility

Cambodia Brewery Ltd (CBL), a wholly owned subsidiary of Heineken Asia-Pacific, inaugurated its second brewery plant on the eastern outskirts of the capital yesterday, tripling its beer production capacity and opening a new line to produce its Dutch parent company’s flagship lager, Heineken.

CBL invested $100 million into the new facility, which will allow it to expand production of its existing beer brands including Tiger, ABC, Anchor and Crown and add Heineken. The new plant will enlarge production capacity to about 100,000 cases per day, or 3 million hectolitres per year more than triple the company’s existing capacity.

Prime Minister Hun Sen, speaking at the factory’s inauguration, remarked on the changes that had transgressed since he attended the opening of CBL’s first brewery plant in 1996. He commended the company on its contribution to developing local industry and expressed awe at the scale of Cambodia’s thirst for beer.

“Just this factory alone can produce 3 million hectolitres of beer a year – and then there are [other local brewers] as well as many other imported brands,” he said before wondering aloud just how much beer Cambodians actually consume.

According to Heineken’s data, Cambodians imbibe about 6.1 million hectolitres of beer per year, or 38.6 litres per person. This puts Cambodians among the top beer-drinkers in the region, though per capita consumption remains just half that of their European counterparts.

Frans Eusman, president of Heineken Asia-Pacific, said he expects Cambodia’s robust economic growth, higher living standards and changes in lifestyle to continue to drive growth in domestic beer consumption.

However, he said the potential market growth was only part of the equation that convinced the Dutch brewing giant to licence CBL to brew and bottle Heineken, which previously was imported for distribution.

“CBL has now been approved by Heineken to produce our iconic Heineken beer brand, a testament that Cambodia is a competitive manufacturing hub for growth prospects, and with stringent quality standards,” he said.

He said the factory expansion would allow the company to produce a dizzying 90,000 cans and 20,000 bottles per hour.

Oum Sotha, spokesperson of the Ministry of Industry and Handicraft, said Heineken’s decision to invest in local production of its flagship beer brand was a sign of confidence given the company’s obsession with quality control.

“Imports of Heineken beer to the local market will cease as supply will be supplanted by local brewing,” he said.

“This demonstrates that CBL’s production complies with international standards and [its products are] at par in quality with Heineken produced in other countries.”

CBL is one of three major breweries in the Kingdom, the others being Cambrew, which produces Angkor, Bayon, Black Panther and Klang beers, and Khmer Beverages, the producer of Cambodia beer.

Peter Leang, president of Khmer Beverages, told The Post in January that the company was nearing completion of a $120 million expansion to its factory that would expand capacity and add new beverage lines.

“The new capacity for beer products will be 5 million hectolitres per year and our capacity for other products will be 3 million hectolitres, with space for an additional 2 million hectolitres reserved for further production of the new beverages that gain popularity in the market,” he said.

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