While tapping into the Chinese market is a dream for many SMEs all over the globe, it can also be a struggle: the case of Ilgezeem

China is one of the world’s most attractive markets: it has 1.3 billion potential consumers with growing disposable income and a mentality for consumption. At the same time, being such a great catch for companies, severe competition among SMEs and corporations is unavoidable to gain even a fraction of this market.

A good way to test the Chinese market is to attend an exhibition to explore the market potential and to gain an understanding of some potential competitors.

Being a translation company, we often help companies overcome some of these struggles along the way.

This is a story of one of our clients, the Ilgezeem brewery, which produces a unique Latvian beer called Tanheiser. Ilgezeem’s history begins in 1863, when it was built by the Germans. Today, the brewery’s products continue to have a following in Latvia; with a stable market position, it is only logical that the company seek out export opportunities. Tanheiser is not just a beer, however; it is rather a fusion of beer, juice, a cocktail, cider and wine. As such, it is hard to classify it as any one of countless existing beverages. The best way to understand it is to try it for yourself. It is a honey beer that comes in six different flavours: original, ginger and cannabis, apple, black currant, cranberry and cherry. For the health-conscious or those who prefer to remain sober, the company has also released an alcohol-free collection that is produced in five flavours: dark, honey, ginger, cranberry and black currant. The secret to the unique taste is the malt extract that the brewery has been producing since the 19th century.

As one of the market leaders in Latvia, the Ilgezeem brewery is ready go global this year; therefore, they are taking part in 11 exhibitions around the world. So far, they have been exporting mostly to Europe – Germany, the United Kingdom and Poland – but have recently added new export markets like South Korea and Dubai. Linearis Translations has been a one-stop solution for the brewery by providing translation services in various languages and interpreting services for exhibitions in Barcelona, Hong Kong and Shanghai.

Using local languages eases communication with potential importers and distributors, and it often speeds things up for business. It is particularly important in China for the following reasons:

  • Many people speak only Mandarin;
  • Business communication is different – WeChat, QQ;
  • Using local customs, etiquette and language can earn greater trust, establish better understanding and potentially provide a better basis for cooperation.

Moreover, each market is extremely different, and China is no exception. Many foreigners living in China have noticed that some products imported from abroad taste different there. It is not that the products are fake, but they have been adapted to Chinese consumers, e.g., Oreo cookies have less added sugar because the Chinese prefer products that are not as sweet as they often are in Europe. Packaging is also often different. While we prefer buying 1 L or 2 L packages of milk in Europe, it is more common to purchase 200 ml of milk in China, which is easy to drink on the go and does not need to be stored in a refrigerator. All these things need to be taken into account if one wishes to be successful in the Chinese market. What might work back home might not work in China. Since China is so far from Europe and it takes 45-50 days for products to ship from Latvia to China, one of the most common first questions from importers is about shelf life, with 12 months being the typical minimum requirement for most of importers. The longer the better.

Tanheiser beer received great reviews at the HOFEX 2017 (Hong Kong) and SIAL 2017 (Shanghai) exhibitions. Many were surprised by the unique taste, and the booth was always filled with curious visitors. Many importers and distributors showed their interest in these products, which makes us hopeful that these drinks will also soon be available all over China. Their long shelf life, reasonable price and unique taste are some of the main reasons why they could successfully enter the Chinese market.

For more information about this unique beer from Latvia, please visit:


For potential importers, please contact Ms Zane Tjurina, Export Manager:


For assistance with your entry into the Chinese market, feel free to contact Linearis IBC (part of Linearis Group):