Jason Warner, President North Europe, AB InBev: “Our UK business has had a strong start to the year, momentum from last year’s double digit growth continues with organic growth across our portfolio of leading premium beers and ciders.
“Turning to our portfolio, in its first year of launch, Bud Light is driving total market volume growth and after introducing the brand in bottle – as well as Dilly Dilly – to the UK in February, it remains a significant bet for us. In fact, bottles now make up a fifth of total Bud Light value sales*. Elsewhere in our no-alcohol and low-alcohol portfolio we are seeing strong momentum, with a nationwide sampling tour of Budweiser Prohibition in January, giving out 200,000 beers for all those moderating in the New Year. This area will remain a focus for us, as part of our Global Smart Drinking Goals to ensure 20% of our global volumes are no-or-low-alcohol by 2025.
“In Q1 we also launched our new Sustainability Goals, which include ambitious commitments in four key areas of our business: smart agriculture, water use, energy use and packaging. This forms part of our focus on long-term, sustainable growth and putting our weight behind causes that we know our consumers are passionate about. Our global brands are getting behind the action too: Corona has committed to protect paradise and tackle marine plastic pollution; Budweiser is on the way to being brewed with 100% British barley and 100% renewable electricity and Stella Artois gives ongoing support of water.org in the fight against the global water crisis.
“In terms of trends shaping the market, premiumisation continues to drive growth in value and volume the category – in the off-trade, premium lager is growing by around 5% in value year-on-year and we account for approximately 80% of segment.[i] Our premium, global brands continue to grow at scale, with Stella Artois “off to a strong start this year”. So far this year, Stella Artois has been the number one driver of value sales growth in the off-trade.**
“Looking ahead, we have big plans for the rest of the year, with Budweiser set to take advantage as Official Beer of the FIFA World Cup, followed by its partnership with the FA kicking off in August. This will see the brand continue its sponsorship of the FA Cup, as well as take on the England Men’s Team and Wembley stadium. We can’t wait to upgrade the pouring experience for fans at this iconic venue, and show up with our full portfolio of premium beers and ciders.
“As part of the summer of sport ahead, we want to increase our visibility in the on-trade and help these customers to maximise the opportunity these celebrations will bring. The UK pub and hospitality sector is so crucial to our industry, and wider economy, which is why we were pleased to be able to support C&C Group last month in its bid for Matthew Clark Bibendum, part of Conviviality. The move gave stability and assurance to the drinks industry, ensuring its future health, and we look forward to continuing our good working relationship with our partners over the coming months and years.”
*Nielsen Scantrack Top 6 Retailers, WE 21st April 2018
**Nielsen Scantrack Total Coverage, YTD to 24th March 2018