Top Czech brewers to boost production capacity

The leading Czech brewery Plzeňský Prazdroj is investing over CZK 280 million in production facilities for its world-famous lager Pilsner Urquell.

Photo: Plzeňský PrazdrojPhoto: Plzeňský Prazdroj The expansion project, which was several years in the planning stage, has already begun and is set to conclude in April 2018, company representatives said.

Plzeňský Prazdroj is looking to boost production by one-third to keep up with demand, which has been increasing in the Czech Republic and on export markets for the last decade and a half.

The marketing manager of Asahi Breweries Europe, Grant McKenzie, told the Czech News Agency that the investment chimed with the plans of the brewery’s owners, who acquired it at the end of March this year.

Mr. McKenzie said that Asahi Breweries Europe regarded Pilsner Urquell as a “super-premium” beer. The firm sees major growth potential in both Asia and Europe, he said.

Plzeňský Prazdroj’s previous owners of 17 years, the SAB group, had invested CZK 25 billion in its plants in traditional home Plzeň, Velké Popovice and Nošovice.

The current capacity of the Pilsner Urquell brewing facilities is 18 brews per 24 hours, amounting to 62,800 hectolitres per week. The new investment will boost numbers to 24 brews per 24 hours for 88,300 hectolitres per week, Plzeňský Prazdroj’s spokesperson told the Czech News Agency.

When full capacity has been reached nearly 3.5 million hectoliters of Pilsner Urquell will be produced annually.

Pilsner Urquell and another Plzeňský Prazdroj product, Velkopopovický Kozel, are of great importance to Asahi and have enormous potential in Asia and Europe, the company’s Grant McKenzie said.

Pilsner Urquell is very well-known in Japan but Asahi has plans to boost its reputation even more, another representative told the Czech News Agency.

Plzeňský Prazdroj is also doing well in South Korea, where its sales this year are 40 percent up on those recorded in 2016. Almost half of those sales are of Velkopopovický Kozel.

In South Korea a half-liter of Pilsner Urquell goes for the equivalent of CZK 500, well over 10 times the brew’s average price in its country of production.

Plzeňský Prazdroj put a new beer canning line into production in June at a cost of CZK 340 million, boosting capacity from 60,000 to 100,000 an hour. This move comes in response to a rise in sales of canned lager in the Czech Republic and on other markets.

Last year Plzeňský Prazdroj sold almost 11 million hectolitres of beer, a jump of close to 1 million hectolitres on 2015. Exports of Pilsner Urquell grew by 10 percent year on year.