“While this summer looked very different for our business in Europe, we were able to grow revenue ahead of volumes in the third quarter as COVID-19 restrictions started to ease. This growth in challenging circumstances is a testament to the agility of our teams and partners, who adapted to fit the new reality, and the strength of our global brands Budweiser, Stella Artois and Corona, which performed strongly as we continued to gain market share in the off-premise channel.
“Budweiser grew by high single digits across Europe, boosting its ties with football and music, albeit in a virtual setting. The brand performed particularly strongly in the UK, where it has partnered with footballers like Wilfried Zaha on a docuseries, Side Hustles, giving fans a unique look at their heroes’ passion projects and ventures off the pitch. Bud is also growing in France and the Netherlands, where it launched last year, and is still bringing music fans together online through BudX livestream gigs.
“Corona grew by high single digits across all key European markets, while Stella Artois saw double-digit growth, driven by sales in Italy and the UK. In its home market of Belgium, Stella Artois has seen strong volume growth in the off-trade, thanks to a great reaction from fans for its updated green bottles earlier this year, bringing a premium feel to one of the country’s best-known exports.
“While restrictions on restaurants and bars began to lift across Europe in July, fewer tourists, the absence of big sporting events like Wimbledon and the Euros and consumer cautiousness meant that on-premise volumes were muted. We worked closely with these customers to ensure they could open back up in a safe and socially-distanced way – providing masks, hand sanitizers and posters as well as terrace furniture to help bars scale up outdoor dining. As cases of COVID-19 start to rise again in many European countries, and further measures are taken to try to limit the spread of the virus, these learnings are more important than ever so we can keep bringing people together safely.
“As the COVID-19 threat has evolved, we’ve seen a number of consumer trends accelerate in Europe, such as a move towards more premium brands and mindful consumption: choosing products that are better for us, sustainably produced and made with natural ingredients. Our no-alcohol beers, like Budweiser Zero, Stella Artois Alcohol Free and Leffe 0.0%, continue to grow, driven by these health-conscious consumers, while our focus on sourcing high-quality European barley, preserving our natural resources and investing in renewable electricity to brew our beers is the right thing for our business, as well as the planet.
“Our number one priority is always the health, safety and wellbeing of our colleagues. In July we partnered with a Belgian manufacturer to buy and operate a bespoke machine to produce face masks for our employees, customers and partners throughout Europe. The machine can produce 500,000 surgical face masks every month from recyclable, European-sourced material, so we can not only provide these masks to our workforce but also to our customers’ workforces in bars, cafes and shops and wider communities. Having our own local supply of facemasks also meant that when the devastating port explosion occurred in Beirut in August, we were able to ship supplies of these masks through the French Embassy to aid workers on the ground there.
“Our business was hit hard by the first wave of the pandemic and we have learned a lot since then – from reshaping our business and supply chain to investing in digital brand campaigns and e-commerce platforms – which will help us deal with future uncertainty. The beer category has also proven to be resilient, with new households entering the category for the first time: choosing our portfolio of premium, speciality and craft brands to enjoy in new occasions, such as meals at home or virtual gatherings with friends.
“Our outlook remains cautious, however, as European governments contend to keep the virus under control over winter, which will impact the beer and hospitality sector further. The brewing industry in Europe supports 2.3m jobs, with over 70% of these in hospitality, and generates €51bn in value every year*, so we must work together to protect this vital part of our economy from the consequences of COVID-19.”
Jason Warner, Europe President, AB InBev
Source: Brewers of Europe
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