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AB InBev entered into a strategic relationship with a consortium of institutional investors, that will acquire 49.9% minority stake in the company US based metal container plants for approximately USD $3bn. The consortium is consulted/led by Apollo Global Management, while AB InBev will retain operational control of the respective metal plants in order to ensure sufficient can supply over the course of the relationship. AB InBev also retains an option to re-acquire the minority stake at predetermined financial terms, following the fifth year of the agreement.  

AB InBev South Africa (former SAB) suspends its commitments to retain workers and investments, as agreed as part of the merger between SABMiller and AB InBev, due to the South Africa Govt. decision to ban alcohol sales (3rd such ban during the past year) intended to curb the coronavirus spread.

Bud Light, an AB InBev brand, is launching a Hard Seltzer lemonade to help the company gain even more market share in this fast-growing sector and despite mounting competition from other players (including Coca Cola). With improved products characteristics (i.e., improved taste), the company hopes to make the drink stand out from the competition.   

Molson Coors introduces ‘Three Fold’ Hard
Seltzer to the UK market as the seltzer craze expands globally. The new product
launch will be present in the shelves in March (already available on-line) with
three fruity varieties (red berries, tropical and citrus) and 4% alcohol.  The product is naturally vegan and gluten
free.

Heineken Netherlands has a new marketing director, Ms Els
Dijukhuizen who was already working for the world #2 in various roles including
 including innovation, communication, digital marketing, brand design, business marketing, and an extensive background with global brands (including previous work with Coca Cola and Smiths Food Group). In her recent role as Director Global Heineken Communication and Innovation, she was one of the founders of the Heineken 0.0’s strong positioning.

Heineken
UK
 launches a workplace savings tool for its staff, in a partnership with savings provider, Cushon. The tool also allows Heineken UK staff to use a flexible benefits
platform where they can make more effective choices about their monthly
expenditures and actively manage their finances.    

Heineken
UK

has completed a transaction to split the ownership of its Blade at home draught dispenser business with on-line beer company, Beerwulf. As per the terms of the transaction, all direct-to-consumer activity and small business-to-business activity will be managed by Beerwulf, while all business-to-business on-trade outreach will be managed by Heineken UK. The aim of the transaction is to increase Blade market share across all sectors and to attract more consumers to home enjoyment of great tasting draught beer.

Carlsberg China’s CEO, Andrew Khan, believes that people will switch to lower
alcohol strength drinks and also an overall tendency to drink less alcohol in
pursuit a healthier lifestyle. In response, companies must 
offer products with lower alcohol by volume (abv %) to counteract falling consumption volumes. Both trends can be already seen in 2020, with more and more brands introducing alcohol free drinks while alcohol sales volumes are declining slightly.

Diageo
has announced its release of a Gordon’s alcohol-free gin, made using the same
distilled botanicals as Gordon’s regular London Dry Gin. The company has
created this 0.0% version to provide consumers with the delicious taste of
Gordon’s while opting for a non-alcohol experience.

Constellation Brands has received approval from the US
Federal Trade Commission for its divestiture of a portion of Constellation
Brands’ wine and spirits portfolio to E & J Gallo Winery. The transaction reduces
the Constellation’s position in lower retail price products and focuses on the more
lucrative premium wine and spirits’ sector.

Premiumization
strategy
 might be plateau in a post Covid-19 pandemic global
economy where incomes are negatively impacted. Premiumization has been a major
trend across more expensive products, including beer; however, Unilever is
already seeing the impact as higher priced products represented only 10% of the
underlying growth rate in the third quarter of 2020. According to World Bank
expects global extreme poverty to increase in 2020 for the first time in two
decades.

A
US craft brewery tax break
 will become
permanent under the current Covid-19 Relief Bill passed by Congress whereby the
fermenters tax break, which applies to breweries, wineries and distillers is
extended. According to the provision first instituted in 2017, breweries that
produce less than 2M barrels per year are charged $3.50 per barrel in federal
excise taxes instead of $7.00, for the first 60,000 barrels. The tax break was
scheduled to terminate at the end of 2020.

More sustainability
initiatives, across the industry and beyond, to highlight:

v  Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), a
global environmental non-profit project, has recognized Carlsberg Group
for leadership in corporate sustainability, by securing a place on its ‘A List’
for tackling climate change. The recognition is focused on Carlsberg’s actions
to cut emissions, mitigate climate risks and develop a low carbon economy. A
particularly notable project was Carlsberg’s cooperation with Netherlands based
solar desalination technology company, Desolenator, to convert saline water
into drinking water.

v  Carlsberg’s India Mysury brewery was acknowledged as
a ‘Noteworthy Water Efficient Unit’ in ‘Within the Fence’ category at the
National Competition for Excellence in Water Management 2020, organized by the
Confederation of Indian Industry in partnership with Ministry of Jal Shakti,
Government of India. Carlsberg India continuously focuses on initiatives to
improve water optimization by implementing a fully collaborative approach
towards efficient water management system across its breweries.

v  Carlsberg Foundation funded a DKK 0.46M
grant to Professor Kristian Lauta from the Centre for International Law and
Governance (CILG), to construct an open access database which captures all
references to sustainability among Danish companies. Included in the database
will be all forms of expertise involved in defining and addressing
sustainability within Danish companies.

v  Heineken, Philips, Nouryon and Signify sign a
virtual PPA contract to buy renewable energy from a Finnish wind farm, for the
coming 10 years. The wind farm extends across Western Finland and is scheduled
to be completed in 2023.

v  Asahi Group entered into a strategic
partnership with Embion Technologies, 
to create new products from the brewing by-products generated
by the company. Embion will provide technology and knowhow to process biomass
and to derive customized, bioactive super-extracts from plant and microbial
biomass.

v  EverGrain, a sustainable ingredients company,
and a company backed also by AB InBev, has been launched. The new
company is using proprietary processes to realise the full potential of barley,
with a commitment to sustainability through circularity. The focus is on
revolutionizing the delivery of barley-based food ingredients, particularly highly
nutritious protein ‘EverPro’ and fiber-centric ‘EverVita’ products. These
ingredients target plant-based beverages, baked goods, protein bars, pasta and
snacks.

v  Muntons Plc partnered with AMP
Clean Energy to reduce carbon emissions by 23,545 tons per year. Through the
project, the company will install a 14MW biomass boiler at its’ Stowmarket site,
which according to Group Managing Director, Mark Tyldesley, aligns with “the
headline Science Based Target for manufacturing is to reduce carbon emissions
by 87% by 2050“.

v  Fertilizer plant Yara,
plans to fully electrify its ammonia plant in Porsgrunn (Norway), with the
potential to cut 0.8M tons of carbon emissions per annum (equivalent of
emissions from 300,000 passenger cars). The plant expects to produce 0.5M tons
of green ammonia per annum. Ammonia is the most promising hydrogen carrier and
zero carbon shipping fuel.

v  University of Idaho College of Agriculture and Life
Science students are exploring ways to use hops waste for different
applications, including textile applications. This is a partnership with Yakima
Chief
 and has already produced paper from hops bines. The team is now
investigating how to turn the bines into textile fibers to be able to create
clothing items.

v  edie Sustainability Leaders Awards
(UK) 
will take
place virtually on February 3rd, 2021 with several category awards
being presented for sustainability, CSR and energy leadership. From a brewing
industry perspective AB InBev and Heineken are noted as finalists.

v  The World Economic Forum has
published the Energy Transition Index 2020, which looks at 115
countries’ readiness to transition to clean energy. Top 10 spots are all occupied
by European countries, as follows: Sweden (1), Switzerland (2), Finland (3),
Denmark (4), Norway (5), Austria (6), United Kingdom (7), France (8),
Netherlands (9), Iceland (10).

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