Why is Chinese beer so popular in Pakistan? | Asia | An in-depth look at news from across the continent | DW

Chinese beer is very popular in Pakistan, having set up a brewery a few years ago in the western province of Balochistan. The brewery supplies beer to large parts of the province, along with the southern province of Sindh and the commercial hub of Karachi. Fans say it’s the colorful packaging, availability and high alcohol content that attract locals to try the beer.

Muhammad Zaman Khan, general manager of excise and tax in southern Balochistan, told DW that the Chinese company – called Hui Coastal Brewery and Distillery Limited – applied for the plant in 2016 and obtained a license in 2018.

The company started production last year, with a production capacity of 65,000 to 100,000 liters per day.

Khan admitted that the company initially targeted Chinese people working on CPEC projects, but has started selling to local retailers as well.

Asif Hassan, who lives in Hub, the city where the factory is located, said the company has introduced three beers, each with a capacity of 500 milliliters. Variations include Hungchi Special Brew, Hungchi Amber Lager, and Hui Cheng.

growing market

Hassan said he had a group of 25 friends and they all tried beer. “Since the establishment of the factory, I have tasted it more than 100 times,” he added.

Meanwhile, a Hindu liquor seller based in Karachi told DW that Chinese beer is becoming more popular among the middle and elite classes.

Consumers see various reasons behind the popularity of Chinese beer. Sami Ibrahim, a resident of Karachi’s Malir district, says the high alcohol content of 5-8% is attracting people. “I only had two cans and I felt like I was drunk,” Ibrahim told DW.

Another Baloch, a resident of Hub Balochistan, agrees. He told DW that the higher percentage is particularly appealing to those who have tried it for the first time and really want to feel drunk. Baloch also believed that the can’s bright colors could entice people to try the beer. He added that the fact that foreigners produce it may also influence people to buy beer.

Difficulty obtaining alcohol

Buying and drinking alcohol is not easy in the Islamic Republic, where it has been officially banned for Muslims. Most consumers of alcohol buy it from Christian, Hindu and other non-Muslim sellers who are allowed to buy and sell alcohol. For this reason, alcohol is sometimes difficult to come by, but many residents of Balochistan and Sindh say that Chinese beer is more readily available.

Yusuf Faryadi Baloch, a resident of Gwadar, a port city in Balochistan, says the three Chinese brands of beer are readily available throughout the province.

Liquor production in Pakistan is monopolized by a few companies, but with the arrival of the Chinese, competition is expected to increase. Khan revealed that Hui Coastal Brewery only produces beer, but has a license to distill other alcoholic beverages as well depending on market demand.

Edited by: Leah Carter

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