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Chinese spirits, wines making a splash in overseas markets

By Alywin Chew | China Daily | Updated: 2019-09-30 07:35
Edlan Chua, chief operating officer of Paradise Group, a Singaporean group offering wines from Ningxia and Xinjiang at its upscale restaurants across China. [Photo provided to China Daily]

China might be known as the world's biggest exporter of tea, but other genres of beverages have been enjoying a growing presence in overseas markets in recent years-wine and spirits.

Like how the nation has progressed so rapidly over the decades, the craft beer scene in the country has similarly achieved significant growth since its inception just over 10 years ago, as evidenced by the slew of craft beer bars and breweries that are sprouting up across major cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu and Nanjing.

Those at the forefront of this scene include Kelley Lee, the co-founder of Boxing Cat, a Chinese craft beer brewery with branches in Shanghai and Beijing.

"The growth of the Chinese craft beer scene has been incredible and inspiring. From not being able to find any craft beer just over 10 years ago to hundreds of craft breweries registering for business licenses last year, the pace of growth is amazing," says Lee, a serial entrepreneur who also has a hand in other food businesses in Shanghai.

Although Boxing Cat has only been around since 2008, the brewery has already managed to chalk up an impressive list of accolades, such as winning the gold medal for its Sucker Punch Pale Ale at the 2013 Asia Beer Cup and becoming the first Chinese craft beer brewery to bag a medal at the prestigious World Beer Cup in 2016. A year later, the company also became the first Chinese microbrewery to be acquired by international beverage giant AB InBev.

A further expansion of the business is already on the cards, and Lee isn't just focused on the domestic market. In late August, Boxing Cat opened its flagship store in Shanghai's Xintiandi, an iconic destination popular with foreign tourists. The company is also among the first in the Chinese mainland to sell craft beer overseas.

"Boxing Cat's beers have already been to many foreign markets. More recently though, we've had larger shipments to Australia and Japan and we've even had our Contender Extra Pale Ale pouring all around pubs in the UK!" says Lee.

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