Canadian beer brewed in China?!

Big Rock looks to China for suds sales

One day, Grasshopper wheat ale and Traditional may be on tap in Beijing and Shanghai.

With a growing craft beer market in China, local brewery Big Rock is eager to explore what opportunities may be available in the nation of a billion people.

“We’ve had our beer sold in other parts of the world with great success and we’re thinking this could be a similar opportunity,” said Big Rock president Bill McKenzie, who is sending a consultant on next week’s trade mission to China.

“It’s very early in the stage. We want to learn a bit more about the Chinese market, we’re not experienced in the Chinese market, that’s why we’re sending a consultant over to get information on the distribution network, everything that is required to get the beer from Calgary to a beer consumer in Shanghai.”

Next week in your Calgary Herald

How will China’s massive economic boom affect Calgarians? Next week, more than 70 local business leaders and delegates head to Beijing and Shanghai as part of Calgary Economic Development’s trade mission to China.

Read Calgary Herald senior editor Chris Varcoe’s reports next week from China as he follows the organization’s largest ever trade mission abroad.

Big Rock’s involvement with the Calgary Economic Development trip -its largest to the country with about 40 companies and organizations -shows a widening view of what opportunities the country may hold.

“Craft beers are growing throughout the world,” McKenzie said. “From what all reports we’re reading, the Chinese market is really looking for flavourful beers as well.

“We’re looking at what opportunities for the next decade, quartercentury, look like.”

China, with its surging economy and growing need for resources, has had an increasing interest in Alberta.

Over the past two years, Chinese companies have invested more than $20 billion in the province, including Sinopec’s almost $5-billion stake in Syncrude and PetroChina’s $4.5-billion interest in Encana’s natural gas ventures, while the Bank of China is opening an office in Calgary.

David Lefebvre, corporate finance and mergers and acquisitions with Gowlings, said Chinese companies are becoming very important clients. “As the Chinese economy continues to grow they will only become more important,” he said of the decision of his firm, which is opening an office in Beijing, to join the trip. “And what we’re starting to see is more Canadian companies interested in doing things in China as well, or joint venturing with Chinese companies.

“So there’s just an incredible amount of work.”

Marketing what’s available in Calary in terms of services and technolgy is vital, Lefebvre added.

Bennett Jones’ Martin Kratz, head of its intellectual property group, agrees. “We see that Chinese businesses are going to be both a recipient of our clients’ intellectual property and we have concerns to ensure that our clients’ intellectual property is protected and enforceable in China,” he said.

“And we see that Chinese companies will be looking to establish in North America and we want to assist them if they do that.”

Both Mayor Naheed Nenshi and provincial Finance Minister Lloyd Snelgrove are joining the mission, which attending businesses say will help open doors and give them access to officials who might have been otherwise unavailable.

While many delegates going are tied to oil and gas, there is also a strong tourism contingent hoping to capitalize on China’s decision to award Canada approved destination status.

Alida Visbach, CEO of Heritage Park, said it’s important for Calgary attractions to show that the city is more than just a gateway to the mountains.

“Our motivation is to be one of the first major centres to go and meet with key tourism operators in China so we’re at the forefront of their minds,” she said of the seven tourism organizations joining the mission.

“As Calgary, it is important that we position ourselves as more than a gateway. Calgary itself is a destination.”

The mission will be in China between May 24 and May 31, and will include an investment symposium.

© Copyright (c) The Calgary Herald

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