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Tsingtao becomes most popular imported beer in ROK

Reporter: U-Jean Jung 丨 CCTV.com

05-01-2016 11:36 BJT

Tsingtao beer, originally founded by German settlers in 1903, has long been one of China’s flagship brews. Now its popularity has spread to China's neighbor South Korea. Sales are surging, thanks in part to the growing popularity of lamb skewer, a Chinese cuisine.

From China's East Coast and across the Yellow Sea. Tsingtao beer has come a long way since it first landed in the South Korean market 16 years ago. Sales by the country's leading supermarket chain showed Tsingtao is now the top-seller among imported brews, frothing ahead of rivals including Heineken, Hoegaarden and Asahi in the first quarter of 2016.

"We’ve seen a boost in sales because there have been more Chinese tourists and as more Koreans dine at lamb skewer restaurants, they get to know Tsingtao there," said Too In-wook, manager of Emart.

This entire street in Seoul has lamb skewer restaurants on both sides from that end to this end. Restaurants serving this style of Chinese style-lamb have sprouted all over Seoul in the past few years, and it would appear that when Koreans eat Chinese, they like to drink Chinese too.

Lamb isn't traditionally favoured by South Koreans because of its distinct smell and strong taste. But restaurants have been modifying the meat to suit Koreans' taste buds, serving it cube-shaped on barbecued skewers. It's proven popular and become inseparable with Chinese beer, especially Tsingtao.

"I think lamb skewers and Tsingtao go well together just like Kimchi and instant noodles. And I think many people eat them together to have the true Chinese experience," said Korean customer.

"I think lamb skewers and Tsingtao are a perfect match. Tsingtao has a jasmine fragrance. So that scent of jasmine and lamb go well together, which is why I think South Koreans really enjoy it," said Wang Zhihui, a customer.

South Koreans have the reputation of being Asia's most enthusiastic beer drinkers. And sales of foreign beer surged 43% last year. Thirst for Chinese been in particular appears to be growing. Figures from South Korea's Agro-Fisheries and Food Trade Corporation show beer imports from China rose by more than 70% year on year in 2015. Still, Japanese and German beer rank higher in total volume of imports. But with distributors looking to capitalise on the growing popularity of Chinese brands, it could be just a matter of time before they surge ahead of the competition.

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