AB InBev explores US$1.2B sale of German brands as part of beyond the beer aisle strategy

GERMANY – Belgium-based multinational drink and brewing company Anheuser-Busch InBev is exploring a sale of some of its German beer brands as it focuses on growth beyond the beer aisle, Bloomberg has reported.  

Bloomberg, citing people familiar with the matter, noted that the world’s largest brewer was in the business review stage and there’s no certainty that it will decide to proceed with a sale of the German brands which are valued at about US$1.2 billion.  

“We continuously assess our options to optimize our business and drive growth,” a spokesperson for Belgium-based AB InBev said in an emailed statement. 

AB InBev employs more than 2,000 people in Germany, where it brews beers including Franziskaner Weissbier, Hasseroeder and Spaten. 

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Many of the brands were inherited from Interbrew, which merged with Brazilian beermaker Ambev in 2004 to form InBev — the company that later combined with Anheuser-Busch.  

While Germany is Europe’s largest brewer, producing about a quarter of beers originating from the continent, it exports less of the drink than both the Netherlands and Belgium, according to European Commission figures. 

5 years ago, AB InBev completed its US$100 billion-plus takeover of British brewer SABMiller Plc, a deal that left the company deeply in debt. 

The deal also exposed the Belgium-based company to a beverage category that’s losing out to spirits and wine in developed countries.  

Under the leadership of recently appointed CEO, Michel Doukeris, AB InBev is now looking beyond beer for future growth.  

A 25-year company veteran, Doukeris is reported to be eyeing opportunities in products such as hard seltzers and canned cocktails.  

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Mining insights from AB InBev’s data analytics tools and delivery apps will also guide the company’s investments into new labels or future delivery ventures, Doukeris said in an interview in July.  

His strategy builds on his predecessor Carlos Brito’s initiatives to diversify while keeping its brewing operations fresh, as with the rollout of the popular low-calorie Michelob Ultra lager. 

Mindful Drinking- The next big industry movement

Meanwhile, Swiss-food ingredients supplier Givaudan has tipped “mindful drinking” to be next big industry movement as alcohol reduction trend takes hold. 

According to the research, 60% of alcohol drinkers in Europe are reducing their consumption while seeking great tasting low- and no-alcohol alternatives to enjoy during a wide range of occasions.   

Givaudan notes that the key drivers behind this “mindful drinking” trend include improving general well-being (38%), saving money (33%), and improving physical fitness (31%). 

Eight are based on longevity or feeling good of the top 10 motivations for choosing low- and no-alcohol drinks.   

Igor Parshin, the company’s regional category manager for beverages, said the alcohol-free movement can be compared to plant protein’s popularity which has pushed even conventional meat companies such as Tysons and JBS to invest in the sector.  

AB InBev’s move beyond beer is only natural and strategic as continued reliance on beer would only result in growth stagnation, something investors would not be happy about.  

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