E-Malt. E-Malt.com News article: South Korea: Oriental Brewery to bring in more premium beers from its parent AB InBev

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E-Malt.com News article: South Korea: Oriental Brewery to bring in more premium beers from its parent AB InBev
Brewery news

Oriental Brewery (OB), Korea's largest brewer, will bring in more premium beer brands from its parent Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev) to meet diversifying tastes, The Korea Times reported on March 15.

The company also plans to foster its "Cass" brand as one of Asia's top 10 beers within two years.

At a press conference on March 13, CEO Frederico Freire said OB would import products from AB InBev after studying what types of beer Koreans wanted.

"Consumers here want new tastes and new products," said Freire. "Given this, we are considering bringing in premium brands from abroad. We are trying to figure out consumer needs and the types of beer suited for the Korean market."

OB imports and sells Corona and several other non-Korean beers.

Freire came to Korea in November last year, replacing former CEO Chang In-soo.

In April 2014, AB InBev acquired OB, which accounts for about 60 percent of Korea's beer market, for $5.8 billion.

The CEO expressed optimism that the brewer would continue its dominance, despite the intensifying competition in the domestic market.

"Having new players and new brands is good for the Korean market," he said. "We have seen big changes in consumer tastes. They want new flavors and new experiences. We have brought a great deal of innovation to the market and provided best beer for local consumers. We will continue to make sure that our products are what consumers want."

Freire said OB would nurture its Cass brand as one of Asia's top 10 brands within two years, adding that the company would double its outbound shipments.

Cass ranks 15th in sales. Last year the brewer exported 1.5 million boxes of beer, and plans to increase this number to 3 million by 2016. A box contains 20 bottles.

"I believe that our Cass brand does not lag behind other global brands in terms of taste and product quality," the CEO said. "We will foster Cass as our global brand."

Asked whether OB's market share fell in 2014 following a "disinfectant odor" scandal in June, Freire said its share rose at the expense of archrival Hite.

"It is difficult to know our exact market share," he said. "But based on our estimate, our 2014 figure actually rose 3 percentage points to 64 percent, despite the unfortunate incident. We launched The Premier OB in November. It has performed really well and helped us maintain our market position."

Freire stressed the importance of teamwork, saying that all 2,000 OB employees should work together toward shared goals.

"Our primary goal is to provide best products for consumers," he said. "To do so, we need to work together. I have been visiting plants across the country to meet employees for the past three months. We have great teamwork in OB."

18 March, 2015

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