TOKYO — Kirin Holdings, a leading Japanese brewery, is set to start exporting craft beer using its small dispenser units, known as Tap Marche, which can serve up to four kinds of craft beer at a time.
The company has chosen Taiwan as the first destination for the export of Tap Marche. It aims to have its beer dispensers installed in 100 restaurants in Taiwan within the year by lending them free of charge.
Five different varieties of craft beer from Kirin’s Spring Valley Brewery subsidiary will be offered at local Japanese, Taiwanese and other restaurants on the island. A serving, of almost 300 milliliters, will be priced at about 180 New Taiwan dollars ($6), which is about $1 more expensive than the beer of major local manufacturers.
Kirin, which is considering further overseas expansion, is currently carrying out market research focused mainly on Southeast Asia, and looking for the right time to make its next moves.
It hopes to harness demand among Taiwanese consumers, who have shown a strong appetite for new products. Imported beer and craft beer are popular in Taiwan, with imports accounting for 30% of the island’s beer market.
Craft beer, which features various unique flavors and aromas, holds a small but growing portion of Taiwan’s 550,000 kiloliter annual beer market. In 2019, craft beer accounted for 5% of the island’s beer market, or 28,000 kiloliters, which is higher than the 1% seen in Japan.
Craft beer’s share of the Taiwanese market has risen by a percentage point over each of the past five years, with more than 20 breweries now producing craft beer.
Kirin serves its Ichiban Shibori lager at about 350 restaurants in Taiwan, where its 20-30 sales representatives will be responsible for marketing the Tap Marche dipensers. The company emphasizes that craft beer goes very well with Taiwanese cuisine, especially pork, squid, or other seafood fried with red pepper, as well as boiled dishes.
Tap Marche was rolled out in the Tokyo Metropolitan area in April 2017 and has been expanded across Japan since 2018. Beer dispensers usually hold kegs of 10 liters or more, but Tap Marche dispensers use three-liter plastic bottles of each beer, which makes it easy to refill and allows restaurants to store multiple types in small quantities. The system had been installed in more than 13,000 restaurants in Japan by the end of 2019.
As of September, Kirin had 28 brands of craft beer from 15 breweries in its year-round product line-up. It plans to expand sales of these beers to countries and regions with higher potential demand by touting its original tapping system that features a variety of products in small bottles.