When Costco opened its first store in China in 2019, it wasn’t just the hot rotisserie chickens and discounted Birkin bags that lured frenzied crowds. A fiery, throat-tingling liquor called Kweichow Moutai also flew off shelves.
Even amid a global pandemic, Kweichow Moutai, the company that makes the eponymous liquor, had a banner year: its stock surged around 70% on the Shanghai Stock Exchange in 2020. The company, which is part state-owned and part publicly-traded, is China’s most valuable firm outside of technology — worth more than the country’s four biggest banks. Globally, its market cap has not only surpassed all other alcohol distillers like Diageo and Constellation Brands, but also Coca-Cola, which had long held the crown as the world’s largest beverage maker by market cap. Valued at 2.7 trillion yuan, or $421 billion, Kweichow Moutai is worth more than Toyota, Nike and Disney, too.