It's taken a couple of years of tough negotiations, but local brewing giant Lion has secured a distribution deal that will see its Steinlager Pure beer brand sold in 382 retail stores, bars and restaurants in Sweden.

Rory Glass, managing director of the brewer's New Zealand operations, said alcohol sales in the Scandinavian nation were heavily regulated and it had been a difficult country to break into.

But Sweden was expected to become one of the biggest export markets for Steinlager, he said.

"It should be quite profitable for us."


All Blacks Tony Woodcock, Adam Thomson and Brodie Retallick will travel to Sweden after their Northern Hemisphere tour, which ends this weekend, to officially launch Steinlager Pure in its new market.

Steinlager has been a long-term sponsor of the team.

Glass said the players would take part in a number of promotional events, including competing in table tennis against former world champion Mikael Appelgren, playing indoor hockey against the Swedish national team and "strength-testing" against Magnus Samuelsson, winner of the World's Strongest Man title in 1998.

Glass said the events should result in Steinlager Pure getting some exposure on Swedish television.

About 20 per cent of Lion's Steinlager output was consumed overseas and in a couple of months' time the company would be celebrating 20 years of exporting the brand, he said.

Hawaii was Steinlager's largest export market, followed by the rest of the Pacific and the mainland United States. Glass said Steinlager was also sold in Britain, Ireland and France.

Including Sweden, the brand was now sold in 20 countries, he said, making it New Zealand's biggest export beer.

Craft brewer Moa, however, has designs on becoming this country's "iconic beer brand" on the global stage and in a recent interview with the firm's chief executive, Geoff Ross, said Steinlager had been successful internationally but its name was problematic.

Glass acknowledged the challenges involved in marketing, to international consumers, a New Zealand beer brand with a German name.

"We do a huge amount of work in terms of explaining the heritage of the beer," he said.

Glass said opportunities existed for taking Steinlager to new markets in Asia, where it was currently sold only in Singapore.