COVID-19 has brought unprecedented challenges for the global economy, taking a toll on local communities, businesses and personal livelihoods around the world. The path to economic recovery is complex, touching everything from global supply chains, to healthcare infrastructure and long-standing systems of inequity. With such great challenges ahead — what does beer have to do with the solution?
The answer is: a lot. Your go-to AB InBev brew is the product of an extensive value chain that supports the livelihoods of more than 20,000 farmers and millions of retailers, pubs and restaurants around the globe. In Mexico alone, the brewing industry represents 29 percent of the total gross production in the beverage sector, while in the US, it generates more than 2.1 million jobs. With far-reaching impacts in thousands of local communities, a strong beer value chain plays a critical role in boosting the economy and enabling a sustainable recovery.
“AB InBev is truly a local business,” shared our CEO, Carlos Brito, at a recent World Economic Forum panel session. “Ninety-five percent of our products are produced and sold locally, so we’re totally connected to the communities where we live and work. We know that the economy can’t recover unless our communities are thriving. That’s why our vision for the future of consumption is to keep money circulating within local economies and deliver tangible benefits to every stakeholder in the value chain.”
Agility and innovation to support partners
We are investing and innovating across the value chain to ensure resilience for our partners, and helping them evolve their businesses for the future. To help pubs and restaurants survive shutdowns and beyond, we are offering numerous tech solutions at no cost, enabling them to offer contactless menus, online reservations and ordering services, and digital payment capabilities.
In Latin America alone, our custom built solutions DigitalMenu and Gurmi are connecting more than 15,000 hospitality businesses with two million consumers. In the retail sector, Tienda Cerca, our free online ordering and home delivery platform, is helping 500,000 small, local shop owners across South America to sustain their businesses.
With farmers hit hard by uncertain supply chains, our long-term partnerships with international non-profit TechnoServe and 100+ Accelerator startup BanQu are helping our small-scale farmers stay afloat. Adapted to meet the challenges of COVID-19, the programs provide access to capital and other solutions to safeguard farmers’ livelihoods, as well as blockchain technology to continue selling crops via safe, socially-distant digital payments.
Alongside these localized initiatives, we are investing at scale in economic recovery around the world. Most recently, we announced a U.S. capital expenditure program that will invest more than $1 billion USD to drive economic prosperity in communities across 26 states over the next two years.
Committed to driving inclusive growth as we emerge from the pandemic, we’re also injecting investment into hard-hit developing economies. For example, in northeastern Brazil, we’re partnering with local governments to boost the economy in areas plagued by high unemployment by producing beers derived from local crops like cassava. They are brewed and sold only within the producing states, creating more than 6,800 jobs, fostering a circular economy and strengthening local agriculture. Our local partners also receive technical training via “ManejeBem” (“HandleWell”) a digital platform specializing in supporting family farmers.
Beyond our efforts, the beer industry at large plays an important role in tackling widespread unemployment caused by the pandemic — and getting people back to work. That’s because the industry’s extensive value chain means each brewing job has a significant multiplying factor in the job market. For example, in the US, every job in a brewery generates an additional 31 full-time jobs*, while in developing economies, this multiplier is even higher; for example, in Uganda, every brewing job creates 60 additional jobs**.
Our purpose is to bring people together for a better world, and every restaurant saved from closing or small farm secured for the next harvest is another vital step toward the future our communities need and deserve. With our partners and colleagues we will continue to work to recover together, and build a more sustainable and equitable future for all.
[*] The Beer Institute and the National Beer Wholesalers Association (May 2019) Beer Serves America Report, page 68
[**] Kapstein, Kim & Ruster (May 2009) Ihe Socio-economic Impact of Nile Breweries in Uganda and Cervecería Hondureña in Honduras, page 8