The Sarajevo Brewery started exporting its most famous beer to Chinese market on Thursday, Sarajevo Brewery’s press office confirmed.

“Sarajevo Brewery started to export its most famous beer ‘Sarajevsko’ to consumers in China, thereby achieving very significant marketing of this BiH product,” Elvir Husejnovic from marketing section confirmed to Xinhua.

The cooperation started after Sarajevo Brewery presented its products at the Ningbo fair in China’s Zhejiang province this year. Sarajevsko beer attracted the attention and great interest of visitors of the fair.

After the recent visit of a delegation from China, negotiations brought concrete results very quickly.

“This export is very important to us, as it is further proof that, after returning to the old quality and reforms of the business in Sarajevo brewery, besides the domestic one, it also won international markets,” said the brewery.

Founded in 1864, Sarajevsko beer is currently being exported to Croatia, North Macedonia, Slovenia, Austria, Germany, Albania, the United States and Sweden.

According to U.K. research specialist Euromonitor, the volume of beer sales in China totalled around 45 million kiloliters in 2018, down about 10% from 2013.

In value terms, however, beer sales in China surged nearly 40% over the same five-year period to about US$93 billion, thanks to rising unit sales prices, driven by the growing popularity of premium beers.

Competition at the top end of the market, primarily among the three biggest players, is also likely to continue. China Resources Beer is the top player, followed by compatriot Tsingtao Brewery and Belgium-based AB InBev.

A report from Daxue Consulting found that craft beer has become more popular as young Chinese consumers gain more awareness of foreign products.

For craft beer alone, a couple of years ago the segment only made up 0.3% of the total beer consumption in China. Since then, however, this percentage has risen to about 5% and will likely continue to grow rapidly.

This growth is largely due to millennial interest in searching online to find new products. This is seen as online searches of craft beer are mainly being done in the coastal cities with 50% of search volume coming from those between 20 to 40 years old.

The main target for craft beer is often millennial Chinese consumers with this group being highly connected to the internet as they shop among several popular e-commerce platforms curious to discover new products.

Moreover, this group is part of the burgeoning middle class which has made craft beer more popular with their  willingness to pay more for premium experiences. Online platforms help better facilitate this with the separation of imported and local products making these products standout to consumers.