Big Beer Making Big Moves: Announcements from AB-Inbev, SAB Miller, Craft Brew Alliance

Two recent announcements from AB InBev, the conglomerate owner of Budweiser and other major beer brands, providing more insight into major consolidation that is taking place among some of the world’s largest beer companies. 

Big Layoffs announced in AB-Inbev SAB Miller merger

The first is that big layoffs are planned for when AB InBev merges with another behemoth in the brewing industry, SAB Miller. According to documents released by the companies about the merger, the layoffs will occur in multiple different phases as opposed to all at once and Bloomberg has reported that this 5,500 employees are likely to be let go in a larger cost savings plan aimed at cutting $1.4 billion annually.

These kinds of cost-cutting measures are commonplace at huge multinational corporations and they highlight the major differences between big beer and craft beer companies. It’s basically unthinkable for a company like New Belgium or Stone to take a measure like this, because there’s a feeling that they value their employees more highly as opposed to a laser focus on the bottom line at all costs.

AB-Inbev and Craft Brew Alliance announce enhanced agreement

The other big news came when the AB InBev and the Craft Brew Alliance announced that they would be furthering their current relationship with ABI, who will be providing more US and international distribution for CBA brands. AB-InBev will also be to contract brewing up to 300,000 barrels of Craft Brewing Alliance beers.

The press release explains that under this new agreement, AB-Inbev has agreed to “provide additional support and committed resources to accelerate CBA’s growth strategy” which will assist in “strengthening its distinctive portfolio of craft brands; maximizing the potential of Kona Brewing Co. as one of the fastest-growing American craft brands; and optimizing CBA’s brewing footprint to drive gross margin expansion and deliver its craft beers to more beer lovers in the U.S. and around the world.”

This is yet another example of just how different the big beer companies are from craft beer companies. Establishing unique brewing techniques and credibility are hallmarks of the craft beer industry, whereas here we see big beer companies doing the exact opposite and instead pursuing profit and efficiency over all else.

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