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Budweiser to expand, use more green power for breweries in China

Budweiser Brewing Co APAC Ltd, the Hong Kong-listed brewer, will keep expanding its manufacturing facilities and adopting more green energy to maintain robust growth during the country's 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25) period, a senior executive said.

Apart from building its second craft brewery in Putian, Fujian province, to support its growth in premium and superpremium brands, Jan Craps, co-chair and CEO of Budweiser APAC, said the group will increase investment in energy conservation and environmental protection, including water, electricity and energy saving, and waste treatment, in the coming years.

With a new investment worth $24.76 million in Putian, Budweiser APAC began building a craft brewery in the city and expanded its in-use brewery capacity to 20 million hectoliters in June.

In addition to opening a new brewery in Wenzhou, Zhejiang province, in December, backed by smart manufacturing facilities and green energy, the company put its first fully automated warehouse into use this year, with the integrated operation of an automatic logistics system in its Wenzhou plant.

Craps said the group found long-term growth trends in China. Budweiser APAC aims to meet the growing demand of Chinese consumers by supporting the development of China's beverage alcohol and hospitality industries.

"We believe the trend of premiumization, where consumers value the quality of drinks and (the experience of) drinking better, rather than (the experience of) drinking more, will endure. We are confident that our diversified portfolio, ranging from non-alcoholic beverages to premium beer, is able to cater to various occasions and consumers," he said.

Eager to boost traffic safety awareness in the country, Budweiser China teamed up with partners including the Traffic Administration Bureau of the Ministry of Public Security, Traffic Police General Brigade of the Shanghai Public Security Bureau, the China Road Traffic Safety Association, and the China Alcoholic Drinks Association to unveil the 2021 Smart Drinking Campaign in Shanghai in mid-October.

Bolstered by its long-term commitment to promote smart drinking, Budweiser China has evolved the iconic public welfare campaign by once again using its popular Harbin Beer brand (HAPI) to co-launch its first-ever street-style smart drinking public welfare TV commercial starring brand ambassador Lay Zhang.

"Throughout our 14-year-long smart drinking journey, we have continued to deliver pioneering CSR(corporate social responsibility) campaigns through innovation and collaboration," said Craps. "This year, we are also building momentum in smart drinking awareness by upgrading the previous one-day celebration to a global smart drinking week."

He added the company will continue to promote smart drinking culture through its own efforts and in close collaboration with partners.

With drink-driving offenders in China getting younger each year, HAPI is therefore leveraging trending street culture to convey a responsible and positive attitude that seeks to directly confront drink-driving behavior, he said.

To further connect to the fun-loving and straightforward personalities of younger consumers, HAPI produced its first street-style public-service video, using "street" language to call on the young generation to join the campaign for a zero drink-driving future at the event this year.

Thanks to Chinese consumers' surging demand for beer products, stay-at-home economy and the recovery of its services sector, as well as the dual-circulation development paradigm, Budweiser APAC saw double-digit growth in sales revenue in the first half of its 2021 fiscal year, while the growth of its premium and superpremium segments rose 9.7 percent and 17.6 percent year-on-year, respectively.

With China striving to reach peak carbon emissions by 2030 and carbon neutrality by 2060, Budweiser APAC, backed by over 22,000 employees and about 30 breweries across the country, will push its Wuhan plant to become its parent group AB InBev's first carbon-neutral brewery globally by the end of this year.

"As China has always been a huge consumer of beer, it is a vital and urgent step for players to digitize their manufacturing facilities with green power sources and their marketing business," said Guo Xin, a marketing professor at Beijing Technology and Business University.

Led by advanced solutions like big data, 5G and other intelligent applications, this change will lead to the structural transformation of the industry and consumption and even bring social transformation, Guo said.

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