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World's biggest beer market keeps getting smaller

Third year of falling Chinese output comes amid rumors of consolidation

China's world-leading beer market looks far from a recovery.

DALIAN, China -- Chinese beer production fell for a third straight year in 2016, and the slowness of brewers to pursue efficiency and keep up with changing consumer tastes has stirred speculation that major players may combine.

Beer output totaled around 45.06 million kiloliters for 2016, according to the National Bureau of Statistics, down about 4.4% from a reported figure of around 47.15 million kiloliters for 2015. (Oddly, the bureau gave the year-on-year decline as 0.1% without publishing a revised result for 2015.)

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