Japanese exports boost growth for West Midlands brewery

By Lorraine Mullaney and Mike Stones

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Beer

Holden's brewery is expanding to cope with thirsty Japanese demand
Holden's brewery is expanding to cope with thirsty Japanese demand
The West Midlands brewery Holden’s is planning major expansion to meet Japanese demand for exports of British real ale. The growth is set to create 10 jobs.

To meet demand from Japan, the company will have to increase ale production from 50,000 to 75,000 pints a week. 

Additional fermentation tanks and bulk beer storage will also have to be installed at the brewery.

Jonathan Holden, the brewery’s md, said: “We have plans to export to Asia in the future, which look very positive. We’re incredibly busy at the moment and have three projects running alongside each other. It’s all looking extremely encouraging.

“There has been an increase in the cask ale market and an increase in demand for packaged beer. The expansion is necessary for us to build on the business.”

Invested £300,000

The firm has already invested £300,000 in building an extension to the site that comprises a new bottle store and office expansion at its base in Woodsetton, Dudley.  

The new plans focus on upgrading the expansion of the brewery in George Street to three storeys, rather than the previously anticipated two.

Holden expects the enlarged facility to be operating by October or November. He took on three new members of staff in the past year and said recruitment would continue later in the year.

The Japanese taste for British real ale is the latest evidence of the growing interest from Asia in British food and drink and the businesses that make them.

Last week Premier Foods sold its vinegar and sour pickles business to the Japanese group Mizkan.

In May Thai food manufacturer CP Foods was resported to be considering making a bid of £2.5bn for Birds Eye, which is owned by Iglo Foods.

The news came after British cereal maker Weetabix was bought by China’s Bright Food in a deal that valued the firm at £1.2bn. 

More jobs and investment

This followed the acquisition of UK duck company Cherry Valley by the Thai company Bangkok Ranch for an undisclosed sum in April. Md of the Lincolnshire-based firm, Richard Bird, said the sale would bring more jobs and investment into the Grimsby area.

UK pork products producer Cranswick recently reported results for 2011/12 ahead of forecasts, thanks to strong export markets in South East Asia. The firm has been using intermediaries to export fifth quarter pork products such as offal, tripe and trotters –“which are not widely consumed in the UK”.

Meanwhile, the Chinese beer market grew by 29% in volume terms in the five years to 2011, to reach record 50bn litres, according to research by Mintel.

The market also grew 63% in value terms over the same period to reach a total of RMB (the Chinese currency Renminbi) ​454bn in 2011.

Matthew Crabbe, director of China research at Mintel, said: “China is where the leading multi-national brewing groups are hoping to make the most growth these days.

“ That compared with the relatively flat established markets elsewhere and the continued growth in sheer scale is a key factor in that interest.”

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