Moa cracks 10th export market
Months after listing, Moa Beer has cracked its 10th offshore market in an export surge.
A full container, carrying between 800 to 1000 cases of Moa, is en route to Richmond in British Colombia - the Canadian province where appetite for craft beer is just behind Moa’s biggest export market, the United States.
Moa general manger Gareth Hughes told NBR ONLINE Canada was another large beer market with a good taste for craft brewing and double-digit growth statistics similar to the US, where craft beer sales grew by 13% to $US8.7 million in 2011.
Moa’s US sales revenue grew 600% in the year to December – albeit from a small base. The brewer has been exporting to the US for two years.
“In our opinion, US is the forefront of the craft beer and Canada is very close to it,” Mr Hughes says.
Since raising $16 million in an IPO late last year, Moa has added a employed a second brand ambassador in the US, where Texas is becoming a key state for the brand.
“Outside Texas, we’re also seeing great results on the east coast. New York and New Jersey are competitive markets but Moa is developing a real presence among craft enthusiasts,” Mr Hughes says.
As the first container of the craft beer is now being shipped to Canada this week, Moa also sent its fourth shipment of 1000 cases to China, where it is targeting high-end Chinese liquor stores and restaurants through a local distribution partner.
“There is emerging sophisticated food and beverage culture in China and we have the right distribution partner to gain share in the luxury beer segment. Our strength is the Moa Magnum, where the Champagne bottle style and experience counts as a status symbol.”
Moa also exports to Brazil, Australia, Finland, Cambodia, Vietnam, Singapore and the UK.
While there were “irons in the fire” in other potential markets, finding the right export partners remained the biggest challenge to export growth.
“You can do a deal once and do it right or five times with five different companies and get five different kickbacks and you end up doing yourself a bit of brand damage if you're not being represented by the right people,” he says.
Export sales had certainly had a boost from listing. “If anything it has helped grow those markets a wee bit quicker.”
Moa founder Josh Scott, son of winemaker Alan Scott, credits recent sales growth to the beer’s bottle conditioning process, which helped overcome New Zealand’s distance form export markets.
“It makes international marketing and supply that much easier. The stock has a much longer expiry date than normal which appeals o our existing and prospective distribution partners,” Mr Scott says.
Mr Hughes says the company is brewing 24-7 to keep up with demand so looking forward to a new, much larger brewery that last year’s capital raising will help to build.
Moa’s November listing gave New Zealand a locally listed brewer for the first time since Lion delisted in 2009, when it was bought by Japanese brewer Kirin.
The brewer made a net loss of $2.85 million in the year to March 2012 and losses are forecast to continue until 2014 as the business invests in growing.
Mr Hughes said sales were declining for a lot of mainstream beer brands, craft brewing was a growth segment of the market and he suggests Kiwis are becoming more sophisticated with craft beer.
“The amount of shelf space that’s being dedicated to it by retailers and the amount of different products that have come out from the traditional big three [brewing companies] in New Zealand – DB Breweries, Lion and Independent – is clear for everybody to see.
“There wouldn’t be all of these new entrants to the market if there wasn’t something in it for them,” Mr Hughes says.
“The good news is they’re actually training up their own customers into a better brewed beer, which I think is great.”
Moa shares are trading at $1.26, 1c above the November 13 listing price.