Tackling Global Challenges with Local Solutions

Anheuser-Busch InBev

6. Clean Water and Sanitation 12. Responsible Consumption and Production 13. Climate Action

Overview

Anheuser-Busch InBev, a global market leader in the beer industry, has a passion for making the future sustainable. The company collaborates with local partners to tackle sustainability challenges, understanding that these environmental problems are impossible to solve alone. Its goal is to build a better future for the next 100+ years, utilizing the AB InBev 100+ Accelerator. The 100+ Accelerator is a project that helps AB InBev find local startups to tackle global challenges. So far, the selected startups have jointly addressed 15 out of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals. In return, AB InBev provides these startups with funding and mentorship. These global challenges are also addressed in AB InBev’s 2025 Sustainability Goals. These goals concern positive, measurable results in the areas of climate action, circular packaging, smart agriculture, and water stewardship. Only through collaboration can a sustainable future be reached. Sustainability is not just part of AB InBev's business; it is the company's business.

Authors

Simon Heleven

Simon Heleven

Elke Liwerski

Elke Liwerski

Selena Hamers

Selena Hamers

Vincent Wijgaerts

Vincent Wijgaerts

School

Universiteit Hasselt

Universiteit Hasselt

Professors

Frank Lambrechts

Frank Lambrechts

Seppe Croonen

Seppe Croonen

Innovation

Anheuser-Busch InBev is focusing on sustainability through its 100+ Accelerator. The company targets social and regional problems, such as the supply chain model for small farmers. AB InBev also concentrates on global issues, such as water stewardship, farmer productivity, product upcycling, responsible sourcing, green logistics, and more. AB InBev created the 100+ Accelerator to tackle these global problems, which connects AB InBev with innovators. These innovators pitched solutions to tackle major challenges, such as dealing with climate change, handling water scarcity, supporting growers, reducing alcohol abuse, and creating nutritious food. AB InBev chose 17 projects in 2020 to participate in the program. These projects should ensure the long-term stewardship of natural resources to make sure that AB InBev can continue to make its excellent beers for 100+ more years. One of the projects selected this year is BanQu. This accelerator project supports small farmers in Africa by creating a blockchain system that traces goods in a growing circular economy. Thanks to the 100+ Accelerator, BanQu has expanded from helping 3000 farms to 300,000 farms.

The 100+ Accelerator emerged from the realization that AB InBev cannot achieve the positive impact the company aims to make just on its own. Collective action is the key to changing the world. Thanks to the accelerator, AB InBev has found a way to tap into local expertise.

AB InBev involved its stakeholders in creating the 100+ Accelerator. The company's latest set of goals was created after consulting with the local communities and discussing with its global consumers. Partnerships are necessary for achieving AB InBev's goals. AB InBev committed to a multi-stakeholder approach. This is reflected in its collaboration with public health experts to reduce alcohol abuse worldwide, which is in line with AB InBev's Smart Drinking program. AB InBev also collaborates with the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) to improve road safety. These are just two examples of a wide range of collaborations designed to make a positive impact.

It is inspiring how AB InBev has managed to make its entire value chain, from farmer to beer consumption, sustainable. Starting with raw materials, AB InBev has set important targets to treat each raw material needed for beer production with care. The company is committed to being very careful with water since it only uses pure water to brew beer. It is also committed to improving water management practices. AB InBev is taking measures to protect river basins at its sites in the main regions of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, China, Mexico, Peru, and the United States. As for barley production, the company has a project to supports farmers in growing and harvesting high-quality barley efficiently and sustainably. AB InBev also uses aroma hop, a type of hop that meets numerous targets for sustainability.

Furthermore, AB InBev also focuses on an efficient and environmentally friendly brewing process for its 500 beer brands. For example, the company reduced its global water consumption to 2.8 hectoliters per year over the last ten years. AB InBev also purifies its wastewater to the same quality level as drinking water. The company is working to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions. AB InBev aims to use 100% renewable electricity by 2025. AB InBev also focuses on the packaging used for its products: 99.9% of the packaging used is recyclable in Belgium. There is also a lot of experimentation with lighter packaging, which has an immediate impact on the weight of shipped products and has a positive result in terms of reducing CO2 emissions. The company even uses its residual waste from the grains used in beer production to make other products, like protein drinks.

Another part of AB InBev's value chain is product transportation, which it aims to make as energy-friendly as possible. Currently, there are minimal zero-emission alternatives for the heavy-duty trucks needed to transport beer. As a solution, the company works together with other companies with similar goods flows. These companies will bundle their goods to reduce the number of trucks needed. Additionally, AB InBev uses trucks that run on CNG, compressed natural gas for transportation within cities. The company's steady commitment to environmentally friendly means of transportation is not easy for a beer producer. Beer is a fresh product that is brewed and also contains yeast, a living organism. It is important to keep the time between bottling and transportation as short as possible.

Beer consumption is the last part of the company's value chain. AB InBev is strongly committed to responsible alcohol consumption. The company has programs to impact the social norms around alcohol consumption positively. The beer producer has been investing in the promotion of responsible consumption. This includes the "Don't Drink & Drive" prevention campaign, the Respect16 campaign, and the BOB campaign.

Tackling Global Challenges with Local Solutions

Inspiration

Anheuser-Busch InBev's brewing tradition dates back to the 13th century when monks began brewing beer in the abbey of Leffe. It was in Leffe's abbey that Leffe, one of AB InBev’s original beers, was born. As the centuries passed and passion for beer grew worldwide, more and more beer breweries were born. In 2000, after many mergers and acquisitions, breweries from around the world united under AB InBev. It is a business that respects beer's heritage and works hard to be the best beer company in the world. AB InBev is also a business that thinks about the future and dreams about still making the best beer in hundreds of years. Protecting nature through sustainability is fundamental for this company since beer is made from water, hops, and yeast. Those natural resources need to be protected in the long term to make sure AB InBev can make its excellent beers for hundreds of years.

Overall impact

Anheuser-Busch InBev's 2025 Sustainability Goals consist of smart agriculture, water stewardship, circular packaging, climate action, and smart drinking. These 2025 Sustainability Goals can be connected to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). AB InBev contributes to ensuring sustainable consumption and production patterns (SDG 12), availability and sustainable management of water (SDG 6), and taking action to combat climate change and its impacts (SDG 13).

AB InBev’s goals go beyond doing less harm; the company aims to deliver a net positive impact on society. AB InBev strives to do this by undertaking numerous initiatives that contribute to a healthy environment and improve human well-being. The company focuses on the availability and sustainability of water, circular packaging, and renewable energy to contribute to the environment. Besides, AB InBev improves human well-being by providing a good environment for its farmers. Additionally, AB InBev also has numerous smart drinking programs.

By concentrating on water availability and sustainability, AB InBev creates a healthy environment with good water quality and access communities. An example of this is AB InBev’s help after the 2019 Brumadinho dam disaster in Brazil. AB InBev supplied the entire region with drinking water.

Investing in circular packaging reduces the amount of pollution that will otherwise end up in nature. The 100% recycled shrink package used for the Jupiler brand, launched in 2019 in Belgium, is an excellent example of AB InBev's efforts to reduce pollution.

Besides the previous initiatives, AB InBev also tries to impact renewable energy positively; the company strives for a world where natural resources are preserved for the future. By 2025, AB InBev is committed to sourcing 100% of its electricity from renewable sources. The company wants to do this by investing in big solar farms as it did at the beginning of 2020 in Spain.

To create a good environment for its farmers, AB InBev helps them become more skilled, connected, and financially empowered, which will benefit their productivity and profitability. When those farmers have higher profits, it will increase their well-being. An example of creating a suitable environment for farmers is AB InBev's model farms. These farms test, validate, and share new ideas with farmers all over the world.

These initiatives describe concrete steps AB InBev is taking to create a healthier environment and improve human well-being worldwide.

AB InBev mainly focuses on long-term impact. The company is on track to achieve its goals, but it will not be easy. AB InBev's global teams observe macro trends to achieve these current goals and determine new future goals. The company will create a new set of long-term commitments for after 2025, although the current focus is on achieving the 2025 sustainability goals.

Business benefit

With a revenue of $52 billion in 2019, Anheuser-Busch InBev has not only created business benefits through its innovation but also value for its stakeholders. The company achieved this stakeholder benefit from its collaborations on over 100 projects to create a better world, with partners like BayWa r.e., BanQu, Simmer & Strip, SmartBarley, and more.

AB InBev mitigated the risk of rising electricity prices by signing the biggest European solar power deal with BayWa r. e. Together, the two companies will build two new solar sites that will supply 100% of the electricity needed for AB InBev's brewers. By doing this, AB InBev accomplishes the goal of having all of its beer produced with renewable electricity.

AB InBev has generated a more sustainable culture for its farmers by positively impacting their wellbeing. The company achieved this through the BanQu project.

The Simmer & Strip project created a new technique for brewing beer ecologically. This ecological brewing process results in a positive impact on the environment. AB InBev realizes that you can obtain a greater positive impact if you work with partners. From this realization, the company shared its Simmer & Strip patent with other companies. Small companies can get the patent for free, while other big companies need to pay a licensing fee.

SmartBarley is a platform that unites farmers to share their experiences, techniques, and more. Sharing this information results in a benefit for farmers because they gain new insight and learn new things from others in their field. By enabling farmers to learn these new things, the quality and quantity of barley for beer production increases. This also ensures better beer quality for AB InBev.

In addition to these projects, AB InBev achieved a 5% reduction in its CO2 emissions. The company has also decreased its water usage. These actions provide economic and ecological benefits for AB InBev and its global consumers.

Social and environmental benefit

Anheuser-Busch InBev has made an impressive social impact. For instance, the company supports its farmers' livelihoods. AB InBev does this by connecting its farmers and financially empowering them. Farmers have historically struggled with attaining credit and becoming part of the banking systems. BanQu made farmers' work visible to banks by creating a market of "raw-material suppliers" with blockchain technology.

With support from AB InBev's +100 Accelerator, BanQu expanded from helping 3000 farmers to 300,000 farmers. BanQu enables farmers to improve their productivity and profitability with proper financial support. This is a catalyst for helping other aspects of farming, which positively impacts beer production overall.

AB InBev also collaborates with local authorities and partners, such as the World Wide Fund for Nature and The Nature Conservancy, to make financial and technical investments in green environmental resources. The company is fully committed to contributing to the Paris agreement to impact society and the environment positively. The company has two goals: the first one is climate actions. AB InBev has committed that by 2025 100% of its electricity will be renewable and that it will reduce its CO2 emissions in its value chain by 25%. To accomplish this, AB InBev has built a large solar farm in Spain early in 2020. Thanks to this solar farm, the company plans to meet its energy goals by 2022. Its second goal for 2025 is to have 100% recyclable packaging. The company has already scaled an alternative for plastic packaging, and by the end of 2020, it wants to have removed secondary and tertiary packaging from its products.

As a global leader, AB InBev is taking responsibility for building a better, more sustainable world. This is accomplished by creating a positive impact through working towards its Sustainability Goals and running the 100+ Accelerator. Sustainability is not just part of its business: it is its business.

Interview

Angelos Tsereklas-Zafeirakis, Procurement and Sustainability Category Manager, Transport and Logistics, Zone Europe

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Anheuser-Busch InBev

Anheuser-Busch InBev

Leuven, Flemish Brabant, BE

Business Website: https://www.ab-inbev.com

Year Founded: 2008

Number of Employees: 10000+

Anheuser-Busch InBev is a drinks company that brews beer and brings people together. The company cherishes the countless new friendships, connections, and experiences that have been built around a shared passion for beer. As one of the oldest and largest beer producers, AB InBev has a storied brewing history.