Top Portuguese brewery re-enters China and expands in Asia


Top Portuguese brewery “Empresa de Cervejas da Madeira”(ECM) from the luxurious archipelago of Madeira and birthplace of the renowned football player Cristiano Ronaldo is re-entering the Chinese market with the “Coral” beer brand, just in time for the Chinese New Year of the Tiger.

The company is betting in some of the major Asian markets such as mainland China, Macau, Hong Kong and Taiwan and Singapore and the strategy was set up and done in partnership with two companies from Macau, Mindware and the Portuguese East Indies Company.

The roaring of the Tiger year in Asia is being closely prepared by ECM with its renowned beer brand “Coral”. The first batch of containers are arriving now at the shores of South China Sea, just in time for the celebrations of the year of Tiger, a year which raises expectations of strength, bravoury, and good luck.

The exports director of ECM, Mr. Gustavo Coelho, told CLBrief that ECM is returning to a market that represented around 20% of its production in the past. “The first containers were shipped almost two months ago”, underlining that “the recovery of this Asian market is of great importance for the company. It is seen as a recognition of our business credibility but also of the quality of our brands”, Coelho said.

On the experience for Coral during the pre-pandemic period, the export director of ECM explains that “the previous presence during 2016-2019 has helped to build an excellent reputation in the Chinese market, and this return reflects that and the expectations for the coming years are good. The brand wants to grow sustainably in this market, but also in the surrounding markets such as Macau and Hong Kong.

“The Chinese beer market is very particular, volatile and full of opportunities. But it is necessary to know how to do business in China, and this partnership substantiates this knowledge, bringing together a lot of experience and many valences, making it versatile, multicultural, with ‘hybrid’ characteristics, capable of reacting quickly and keeping up with fashions and trends in Chinas”, said the Managing Partner of Mindware, Mr. Diogo Couto to CLBrief. These are fundamental factors for companies that want to succeed in a market like China”, he added.

Mr. Couto, a Chinese beer market specialist, perceives that “ECM and its products, such as Coral beer, are very popular among Chinese consumers, who value quality” and moreover “Madeira is a premium and quality place, and this perception is already noticeable in the Chinese public”. “In this way, we were able to assemble a model with the right people and the right approach so that a family owned brewery beer brand, such as Coral, will succeed as much or more in the Chinese market as any big multinational brewery or a beer belonging to a big multinational group, such as most of the mainstream brands”, the Macau born partner stated.

According to the representative of the Portuguese East Indies Company and vice-president of PORCHAM South-China, Mr. Vitório Rosário Cardoso, “the further expansion of the brand in Asia must be in a sustainable way and during the following times it will be very important to consolidate the operations in the Chinese Great Bay Area.

“Regarding other Asian markets we are watching and analyzing carefully with local partners but one thing is sure: we will make good use of the renowned destination of the Madeira Islands that is so well known as well to the English speaking expatriate communities in Asia, namely in Singapore, to promote Coral Beer. No less important, we are aiming of course at some specific markets in South-East Asia to supply to the Portuguese Communities living abroad.

Empresa de Cervejas da Madeira (ECM) is in Portugal – European Union, and produces and distributes its own brands of beer, soft drinks and bottled water, being the only 100% Portuguese Brewery company in this industry. Coral, Brisa and Atlântida are part of Madeira Heritage, the quality and guarantee of the ECM brands are the result of the long manufacturing experience of 149 year. Over the years, ECM products have won 171 Monde Selection medals.

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