Today we announced our results for Quarter Four and Full Year 2019. Here our European President, Jason Warner gives his take on Europe’s performance and highlights last year.
While 2019 was a challenging year, our European business grew volumes as well as market share across all of our markets. We are continuing to invest in our brands and infrastructure, with a focus on globalizing Europe, shifting to renewable electricity and developing our no-alcohol and low-alcohol beers, following consumer demand.
As we see consumers trading up to premium, culturally-relevant brands, our global beers such as Budweiser, Stella Artois and Corona performed well. Our brands are number one for brand power in six out of nine European markets* and Budweiser is now the fastest growing brand in Europe, following successful launches in France and the Netherlands last year and partnerships with football giants like the Premier League, Juventus FC in Italy, Ajax in the Netherlands and the England women’s team in their historic World Cup bid.
We are forming new partnerships to fulfill our growth ambitions. Our Spanish businesses signed a key distribution agreement with Spain’s leading brewer, Mahou San Miguel, which will give us access to their strong, extensive network in Spain. Two years into our joint venture with Andalou Efes in Russia and Ukraine, AB InBev Efes is now number one in market share in those markets.
As a business that relies on natural ingredients, we made further progress towards our Sustainability Goals to preserve these vital resources. We’ve signed milestone renewable electricity deals in Western Europe, UK and Russia, so that our beers will be brewed with renewables and have invested in green technology in our UK breweries to eliminate plastic rings from our beer cans, taking over 850 tonnes of plastic out of the market each year. We’ve also introduced reusable cups in Belgium and the Canary Islands, eradicating 34 million single-use cups.
We are also engaging consumers on these issues through our brands. Budweiser, an official sponsor of the 2018 FIFA World Cup™, created a unique football pitch from 50,000 recycled plastic cups in Sochi, Russia in April. Meanwhile, Corona continued its mission to protect paradise from plastic pollution, cleaning over two million square metres of European coastline in 2019.
We accelerated our smart drinking efforts in 2019, as well. We launched Leffe Blond 0.0% in Belgium, the Netherlands and France, and introduced Kvass – a traditional, alcohol-free Slavic beverage – to Ukraine. Our city pilot in Leuven, Belgium, designed to reduce harmful drinking by 10%, led a series of student activations, including alcohol-free freshers evenings with Jupiler 0.0.
2020 and beyond
Looking ahead we will continue to invest in Europe, organising for long-term sustainable growth, led by our premium, global brands.”
* Brand Guidance Report Fully Year 2019, Kantar