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Latest Anheuser-Busch Initiative Aims to ‘Elevate’ Craft Beer Industry Sustainability

Image credit: Anheuser-Busch

Craft beer has taken off over the past five years, with the industry now boasting over 6,000 craft breweries in the US alone, 700 of which opened in the past year. In order to continue this momentum, Anheuser-Busch (A-B) has launched Elevate, a new initiative that aims to take craft brewing to the next level by creating a stronger, safer, more sustainable category and raising awareness of its craft beer and cider brands.

The program was developed by The High End division of A-B, which is comprised of 11 craft breweries the company has acquired since 2011. It includes 10 Barrel Brewing, Blue Point Brewing, Breckenridge Brewing, Devils Backbone Brewing, Elysian Brewing, Four Peaks Brewing, Golden Road Brewing, Goose Island, Karbach Brewing, Virtue Cider and Wicked Weed.

“At The High End, we believe we can create the best future for the beer industry. That’s why we and all our craft partners are committed to lifting up the beer category through measurable actions, on behalf of an industry only scratching the surface of what is possible. Elevate is our way of forging a new collaborative path forward for the entire industry,” AB InBev notes on its new Elevate website.

This new collaborative path is built on four pillars that include commitments and investments into beer, the environment, communities and the wider industry.

In addition to the rollout of “best consumed by” labels that stand to emphasize freshness and food pairing programs aimed at attracting wine and spirits drinkers, Elevate will see the installation of solar panels at craft brewery partner facilities and, by 2020, the transition to 100 percent renewable electricity. This builds on a commitment made by A-B earlier this year to secure 100 percent of its purchased electricity from renewable sources by 2025, a move which will shift 6 terrawatt-hours of electricity annually to renewable sources in the markets where AB InBev operates. The program also endeavors to reduce water consumption by 20 percent during the same period.

In terms of community-focused commitments, A-B has budgeted $2 million for its craft brands to use to support nonprofit organizations in their communities. On the industry side, the initiative will begin to regularly host safety seminars for industry members at all of its craft breweries starting in 2018.

“The incredible growth enjoyed by the overall beer industry has slowed,” Felipe Szpigel, president of A-B’s The High End division, told Brewhound. “We need to be real about this and work together to return the beer industry to the growth we know it deserves.”

A-B plans to make its progress on its Elevate commitments public, sharing third-party, independent verification from KPMG along the way. “Transparency is absolutely essential to building trust in our motivations and helping us build a coalition dedicated to progress,” Szpigel said. “Together, progress is not only possible, it’s inevitable.”

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