The breweries in Vietnam – Focus on Sapporo

September 2012 – Sapporo Holdings Ltd. (, is a publicly listed Japanese company and Japan’s oldest and fourth-largest brewer.

With the beer market in Japan shrinking, Sapporo (like its domestic counterparts) has a strategy to invest overseas. It has said that it will actively seek acquisition opportunities to enlarge its overseas business, which accounted for less than 10% of its revenues at end 2009.

Early January 2010, Sapporo CEO & president, Takao Murakami said that “Competition in China is intensifying, and everyone seems to be having a hard time boosting profits.  We can’t take the risk of entering a market that may give us returns 10 or 20 years later.”  He went on to say that Sapporo would focus on expansion in North America and Southeast Asia.

Sapporo were of course well on their way to executing the strategy he alluded to as they had already bought Sleeman in Canada in 2006 and in December 2009, Sapporo, agreed to acquire a 65% stake in Kronenbourg Vietnam Limited. 

Under the terms of the agreement, Sapporo acquired a 50% stake from Carlsberg Breweries A/S and a further 15% stake from Vinataba.  The remaining 35% stake continued to be held by Vinataba, Vietnam’s state-owned Tobacco Company. 

As a result of the change in ownership, the name of the entity changed from Kronenbourg Vietnam to become, Sapporo Vietnam Ltd.

Sapporo Vietnam pretty much immediately started construction of a new plant in Long An Province, near Saigon.  This brewery was commissioned November 2011.

The stated plan for this brewery was not only to produce for Vietnam but also for Southeast Asian countries and Australia.

Sapporo is the first Japanese brewer to produce and market its own beer in Southeast Asia.

Sapporo market position & outlook in Vietnam:

Sapporo is targeting 3-5% of the Vietnamese beer market with sales of $128 million by 2019 and a production volume of 1.5 million hL.

It’s too early to tell if they will meet their objectives but the Japanese are notable for being long-term planners.

Please bear with us as we quote from ourselves in the article “Vietnam Beer brands and distribution” (, “Sapporo launched their eponymous brand in Vietnam in 2011.  They seem to be the first international brand to pose a serious threat to Heineken in the long term.”

They have made a strong entry into the premium market.

Their current campaign “Nắm bắt vinh quang” (Grab the Glory) seems to resonate.

We’ll certainly be viewing with interest Sapporo’s progress in the Vietnamese beer market. 

This “Focus on Sapporo” is the seventh in our series of articles looking at the major brewing groups in Vietnam.  We will have another article to release w/c 8th October looking at how some brands make it whilst others don’t, so please come back for that.

Please also feel free to contact us for more information.

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