Anheuser-Busch InBev (NYSE: BUD) has officially opened its newest brewery in China — a sign of the significance of the Chinese market to the world's largest brewer.
The company's new Putian Brewery was commissioned for operation on Wednesday in China's Fujian Province and will have the capacity to produce 1.5 million tons of beer a year. According to AB InBev, that makes the brewery the largest such facility by capacity in Asia Pacific.
Among the technologies employed in the plant will be production lines that can produce 160,000 cans per hour, a speed that's twice as fast as previous production lines, according to the brewer. Other technological updates will aid quality control at the facility through the use of high-speed scanning and automatic discarding of products with defects.
Aside from improvements to production efficiency, the Putian Brewery will also make use of solar power panels that will ultimately reduce emissions equal to the environmental impact of 780,000 trees, according to the company. The amount of water and heat usage at the required for brewing will also be reduced through the use of more sustainable processes, AB InBev added.
AB InBev's investment in the country comes as the number of consumers making up China's middle class continues to grow. The corresponding growth in purchasing power has resulted in greater demand for more premium brands, such as Budweiser or Corona, as consumer tastes change.
Shares in the brewery which trade on the New York Stock Exchange did so Thursday at $111.72, down $1.28, or 1.1%, from Wednesday’s close, within a 52-week trading range of $100.90 to $126.50.