BELGIUM – Beer giant AB InBev has alerted wholesalers of its intentions to discontinue two of its canned drink brands, Babe Wine and HiBall, to “better focus and simplify” its brand portfolio.

The Belgium brewer has informed retailers they can finish selling excess inventory of products, but they will not get any more supplies of the brands.

AB InBev noted that it’s now pursuing an “unbiased, consumer-based view of category growth drivers and their impact on segments and brands,” and will adjust company strategy accordingly.

Anheuser-Busch, through its affiliate ZX Ventures, acquired the remaining stake in US canned wine company Babe Wine in 2019.

Babe, known for its lineup of canned wines, was founded in 2016 under the name Swish Beverages by David Oliver Cohen and Josh Ostrovsky. The brand was created with the mission to simplify the wine category by introducing a “fun, inclusive, and portable product.”

“We pride ourselves on putting the consumer first and evolving with them through innovation and cultural engagement, and Babe Wine is in a class by itself when it comes to understanding their drinkers and building brand loyalty,” Anheuser-Busch CEO Michel Doukeris said in 2019 upon the acquisition.

The deal saw AB InBev-owned Anheuser-Busch continue to expand its Beyond Beer portfolio as it looks to provide consumers with “winning brands for every occasion.”

The world’s largest brewer acquired Hiball, a San Francisco-based producer of energy drinks and owner of the Alta Palla brand of organic sparkling juices and sparkling waters in 2017.

The acquisition marked another step into the non-alcoholic drinks sector for the company and committed to transitioning the Hiball Energy and Alta Palla brands to its wholesaler partners.

“Hiball’s products target some of the most important trends in the beverage space today, including health and wellness,” the company said in a statement.

Anheuser-Busch InBev sells one of its acquired-craft breweries to founders

Meanwhile, AB InBev has also divested the Appalachian Mountain Brewery, an independent craft brewery located in North Carolina back to its founders.

Nathan Kelischek and Chris Zieber founded Appalachian Mountain Brewery in 2011, a modest-sized brewery that produced just 500 barrels of beer in 2013.

It quickly began to grow. In 2018, Appalachian Mountain was fully acquired by Portland-based Craft Brew Alliance (CBA), which at the time was partially owned by A-B InBev.

Following the AB InBev’s full acquisition of CBA in 2020, Appalachian Mountain Brewery became part of A-B InBev’s High-End division.

In a statement, the founders said: “We will be shifting our focus immediately on growing our local team, opening our new taproom in Mills River, NC, and continuing our investment in sustainability and philanthropy efforts that make a difference in our North Carolina communities. This all hinges on producing the highest quality products and delivering a unique experience for our customers.”

For all the latest food industry news from Africa and the World, subscribe to our NEWSLETTER, follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube channel.