A-B, InBev strike deal

American giant will import tops brands of European competitor

Nov 30, 2006 - Anheuser-Busch and InBev, the world's two largest brewing companies, have struck a deal where A-B will become the exclusive U.S. importer of a number of InBev's premium European import brands, including Stella Artois, Beck's, Bass Ale, Hoegaarden, Leffe and other select InBev brands, the two brewers announced.


Effective Feb. 1, Anheuser-Busch will import these premium brands and be responsible for their sales, promotion and distribution in the United States. These InBev brands, which had sales volumes of about 1.5 million barrels in 2005, will be available to Anheuser-Busch's U.S. wholesaler network where possible.

InBev's Canadian brands, including Labatt Blue and Labatt Blue Light, as well as Brahma, are not included in the agreement.

Terms of the agreement were not disclosed, but A-B distributors stand to gain from the deal as they take control of the beers from other distributors.

"This agreement gives us highly-valued brands that appeal to beer drinkers looking for sophisticated imports in their beer choices," said August A. Busch IV, president and chief executive officer of Anheuser-Busch. "We live in a world with diverse cultures and lifestyles, and this provides additional variety for our consumers. These well-known import brands complement our company's leading portfolio of American premium beers and enable our company to better compete. This is consistent with our stated strategy of enhancing our participation in the U.S. high-end beer segment."

According to Beer Markter's Insights the big prize is the fast-growing Stella Artois brand, which could reach 500,000 barrels this year compared to 300,000 in 2005. Beck's is still the biggest at 700,000 barrels, while Bass has slipped in recent years to 437,000 barrels in 2005. Hoegaarden and Leffe are both brewed in Belgium and sell at a premium price, although Hoegaarden has felt recent pressure as Coors' Blue Moon White grabs market share.

Published : Nov 30, 2006
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