Anheuser-Busch is best known as North America's King of Beers, as a result of its Budweiser and Michelob brands. But in a shock development in 2008, this long-established American icon was acquired by Belgian-Brazilian rival InBev for a whopping $52bn. That deal created a mammoth new business, the world's largest brewer by a considerable margin. The combined company now operates under the name AB InBev, although its main US subsidiary is still known as Anheuser-Busch. It remains the clear leader in the US beer market, with around 42% of the market in 2017. The Budweiser family, led by Bud Light, accounts for over half that total. Other important brands include Michelob, Natural Light, Busch and European import Stella Artois. But sales of traditional brews - especially Bud Light and Budweiser - have stalled in recent years, prompting an aggressive push by the company into faster-growing and higher-priced craft beer. AB has acquired more than a dozen regional brewers in recent years, now consolidated under the banner of The High End. Key brands and breweries include Shock Top, Goose Island, Redhook, Elysian, Golden Road and the UK's Camden Hells. It continues to dabble in numerous other segments including Mexican beers (including Montejo), malt beverages (Bacardi Silver, Lime-a-Rita and others) and from 2019 even spirits. The US business is partnered by Labatt Breweries, now Canada's biggest brewer ahead of long-time rival Molson after it secured local distribution of Corona Extra, which AB InBev owns everywhere except the US. Until the InBev takeover, Anheuser-Busch was also one of the largest theme park operators in the US (Busch Gardens, Seaworld and others), as well as a leading manufacturer of aluminium containers. The parks business was sold in 2009, and the group has gradually reduced its exposure to materials manufacturing and recycling. For 2018, Anheuser-Busch InBev North America reported revenues of $15.5bn, or 28% of the group total. However, volumes have been falling steadily for several years, down another 2.5% in 2018 to 110.7m hl. Joao Castro Neves was replaced abruptly as president of AB InBev North America in 2016 by Michel Doukeris.
Capsule checked 16th March 2018
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Who are the competitors of Anheuser-Busch? The company's main competitors in the US beer sector are MillerCoors, Constellation Brands and Heineken. In Canada, its main competitor is Molson, a unit of MolsonCoors. See Alcoholic Beverages Sector for other companies
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Historical profile information for Anheuser-Busch
Adbrands Daily Update 21st Feb 2019: AB InBev dipped its toe back into the hard stuff with a deal to acquire Cutwater Spirits, a San Diego marketer of vodka, mixers and premixed canned cocktails. No price was disclosed. The business will sit alongside the Ritas and Spiked Seltzer malt beverage portfolio and other brands in the company's "Beyond Beer" division. Cutwater was launched in 2015 by senior managers from craft brewer Ballast Point, acquired that year by Constellation Brands. It's not Anheuser-Busch's first venture into spirits: it had already dabbled in that sector in the mid-2000s as a reaction to the first declines in the US beer market. The company launched a bizarre liqueur-based cocktail mix under the name Jekyll & Hyde as well as high-end vodka Purus. Sales were poor and the experiment was discontinued a year before AB was targeted for takeover by InBev.
Adbrands Social Media 28th Jan 2019: "Robots". AB InBev unveiled another of its eight planned Super Bowl ads. FCB Chicago's campaign for Michelob Ultra lacks the star power of last year's Chris Pratt spots, but it has an even cooler idea. Sure, robots are better than humans at just about everything. But they can't enjoy a cool refreshing beer after all that effort, so why bother?
Adbrands Daily Update 20th Dec 2018: AB InBev is following US rival Constellation into the legalised cannabis market. Its Canadian subsidiary Labatt will join forces with pot producer High Park, a unit of Tilray Inc, in a new partnership that will research cannabis-infused alcohol-free beverages for the local market. Each company will invest $50m in the venture.
Adbrands Weekly Update 16th Nov 2017: Continuing weak performance in its key US market prompted another shake-up at Anheuser-Busch InBev. North American CEO Joao Castro Neves has departed the group and was replaced by Michel Doukeris, another Brazilian-born executive who was previously global sales officer. "Now, we're going to have a more commercially minded person at the head of the business," said group CEO Carlos Brito, in a blunt rebuke to Neves, who had spent two decades at the group and its predecessor companies. In addition, Brendan Whitworth (one of AB InBev's comparatively rare non-Brazilian senior executives) was appointed as VP, North America sales, in place of Alex Medicis. Market share for AB InBev's two biggest US beers has been falling steadily despite multiple attempts to curb that decline. Market share for top-seller Bud Light has fallen from 21.4% in 2008 to 18.8% last year, according to Euromonitor, while Budweiser has slumped from 10.6% to 6.8%. Industry watcher Beer Marketer's Insights estimated a further fall in volumes during the year to-date of almost 6% for Bud Light.
Adbrands Weekly Update 2nd Nov 2017: Brewing giant AB InBev's numbers were mostly positive, with revenues and profits both up on growth in emerging markets, but the group is still struggling with declines in the US, where underlying sales fell by more than 5%, and volumes by more than 6%. Local leader Bud Light continues to lose market share against Corona Extra and craft brews, even if it is in no danger of surrendering its position as the country's top-selling beer anytime soon. Budweiser too was down.
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