TOKYO -- Kirin Holdings will sell its signature beer Ichiban to Myanmar consumers starting this month.
The Japanese company has offered Ichiban as draft beer in upscale restaurants in the country, but will now target households directly by selling retail versions.
Kirin will produce canned and bottled Ichiban with Myanmar Brewery, the country's market leader, which it acquired last year. The products will be marketed through the subsidiary's sales channel.
Ichiban, which is currently available in 40 markets, will be positioned as a premium offering in the Southeast Asian country. The prices of around 120 yen ($1.15) per 330ml can and 140 yen per small bottle are comparable to such overseas brands as Heineken of the Netherlands, but 30-40% pricier than standard local offerings such as Myanmar Beer, which is sold by Myanmar Brewery.
With a target of having 200 retail stores carry Ichiban by the end of the year, Kirin will step up marketing to supermarkets and other businesses in urban areas.
As the Myanmar economy grows, the beer market has been expanding at a rate of more than 10% per year. Foreign breweries are in intense competition to capture the rising demand. Danish brewery Carlsberg has offerings targeting high-income consumers, as well as lower-priced local brands aimed at strengthening its market presence.
Myanmar Brewery has an overwhelming market share of some 80% but has lacked high-end products. Ichiban will enable it to compete against foreign brands.