July 19, 2024

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AB InBev, Heineken and Carlsberg have had a tough 2023

2 min read

Brewers have had a 2023 filled with curveballs. Early on in the year it was clear consumers would be battling inflation—signaling damp sales as a result. But then came a wave of problems many businesses could not have predicted.

The high price of food and beverage items impacted beer just as much as items like eggs and cheese, setting the tone for the year to come. Nonetheless, 2023 opened strong with big brewers bringing in strong sales in the first quarter, driven by resilient consumer appetite and Chinese New Year activity.

Although the world’s second-largest beer company, Heineken, showed initial signs of cracking with beer sales plunging 3% in the first three months, the group managed to maintain its full-year operating profit expectation, thanks to price increases and premium beer demand. 

But new challenges began to emerge when Anheuser-Busch Inbev, the Belgian-based owner of Budweiser and Stella Artois beers, found itself in a heated culture war. The controversy resulted in a decline in the sale of its lager and lost Bud Light the status of America’s top-selling beer. 

Elsewhere, Copenhagen-based Carlsberg was caught in a tussle with the Russian government which seized its lucrative beer operations in the country. 

On top of that, these headwinds come at a time when brewers are trying to make sense of shifting drink preferences, seen in the growing popularity of non-alcoholic beer.

So, how has 2023 shaped up for the world’s biggest brewers?

Backlash and boycotts

In April, American brewing arm Anheuser-Busch’s Bud Light beer became the subject of controversy when a sponsorship with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney went awry. An Instagram post by the TikTok star promoting Bud Light attracted backlash and calls for boycott from conservatives, following which AB InBev disavowed the campaign. That sparked criticism from the LGBTQ community for the brewer’s lack of support for Mulvaney after the fallout. 

The…

Prarthana Prakash

2023-12-29 05:32:16

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