As a leading brewer in the world, Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev) has committed itself to the global sustainability agenda with a focus on its own global sustainability goals but largely aligned to the UN SDGs and aimed at driving the greatest impact in the communities of operation or presence.
In 2015, the United Nations adopted seventeen Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as part of its agenda to achieve sustainable prosperity for the planet and its people. The SDGs include ending world poverty and hunger, guaranteeing good health and well-being, providing quality education for all, providing clean water and sanitation, providing affordable and clean energy, and encouraging responsible consumption and production, among others.
AB InBev’s sustainability goals comprise four pillars, each of which has associated commitments and initiatives. These four pillars are: Smart Agriculture, Water Stewardship, Climate Action and Circular Packaging.
AB InBev runs breweries in eleven (11) African countries. The way in which the global brewer’s sustainability goals are applied across Africa considers a wide range of factors specific to countries or sub-regions.
Being a leading global brewer means that AB InBev depends on high-quality agricultural crops to brew its leading global beer brands. That ultimately has a direct impact in terms of supporting the livelihoods of farming communities worldwide and on the African continent. AB InBev works directly with farmers to grow natural ingredients to enable the brewing of the best beers.
The need to transform agriculture at scale is becoming increasingly more urgent, and key to achieving that is research, knowledge, technology and financing capabilities in the sector. It is critical to leverage these capabilities to advance agricultural development and measure impact through yields, resource-efficiency, soil health and smallholder incomes.
Approximately 15,000 African farmers are part of AB InBev’s supply chains with the goal that by 2025, 100% of direct farmers will be skilled, connected, and financially empowered.
By supporting direct farmers to be skilled, connected and financially empowered, they are in the long run improving their productivity, their profitability, and their efficient use of natural resources, such as soil and water.
Skilled farmers are not only better able to assure sustainable livelihoods and growing businesses, they are also able to make better use of natural resources. Agronomic support across Africa is provided by AB InBev’s in-country agronomic teams, who provide regularly updated production guides and host a variety of training events. Crop management protocols are developed, outlining best management practices which are important for productivity – both now and in the long term.
A local-variety development program is in place for all priority crops in each country. Crop research trials are conducted by AB InBev’s R&D teams, and seed varieties tailored to local conditions are made available to farmers.
Connected farmers make use of global information systems to obtain better information on weather, growing conditions, and markets for their products. In Africa, where connectivity and access to
feature phones are not always assured, SMS-based platforms provide farmers access to agronomic and market information.
Farmers are connected to AB InBev’s SmartBarley or similar digital platforms as appropriate, allowing them to record crop data and receive agronomic advice tailored to their conditions.
Financially empowered farmers benefit from crop offtake agreements, receive access to credit, and are able to make payments more easily through access to mobile money platforms. Smallholder farmers are trained in basic business and financial skills, while commercial farmers are subscribed to appropriate risk-mitigation or cost-share solutions.
An initiative which has seen considerable success amongst our African farmers has been the roll out of the BanQu blockchain platform, which is used for supply-chain transparency and to promote financial inclusion.
BanQu connects African farmers to the AB InBev value chain with immutable records of all crop transactions made. This will mean that each farmer owns a digital ledger, known as an ‘economic passport’, describing every agricultural cycle from input to harvest, including a transparent and traceable payment history of every kilo sold with quality metrics.
This gives the farmers a unique, secure global economic identity, meaning they can transact with anyone on the planet without fear of fraud or abuse.
Water is the number one ingredient in beer. AB InBev is working with like-minded partners towards improving water access and security in the communities of presence with the aim that by 2025, 100% of communities in high-stress areas will have measurably improved water availability and quality.
Driving efficiency and responsible discharge is a major priority within AB InBev’s operational lines. Beyond the brewery gate there is significant investment in shared watershed security. In local communities, promotion of water access and disaster relief efforts is paramount. Across our value chain, we promote water security through key brewing materials and engaging major suppliers.
Through innovative partnerships and initiatives, AB InBev has been able to make substantial progress on ensuring that water resources are protected and that farmers and communities are better able to access sustainable sources of water without depletion.
AB InBev has partnered with Water.org to provide US$180,000 in water financing for Tanzanians in need. AB InBev’s grant will enable Water.org to collaborate with financial institutions in Tanzania to implement and scale loans for water and sanitation solutions.
In Mozambique, Uganda, and Zambia, a partnership with the WWF has seen water risk, access and availability assessments, and invasive species clearing projects rolled out.
Climate change remains the most pressing global challenge facing society. In fact, in the World Economic Forum’s 2021 Global Risks Report, four of the top five risks in terms of likelihood and three of the top five risks in terms of impact were environmental.
Our business is one that is closely tied to the natural environment: agricultural crops and water are our key ingredients, we require raw materials for our packaging, and we need energy and fuel to brew
and transport our beers. All of these have the potential to be impacted by climate change, and we are already experiencing some climate-related impacts in our value chain.
Our goal is that by 2025, 100% of our purchased electricity will be from renewable sources and we will reduce our carbon emissions by 25% across our value chain.
We use a variety of geography-specific technologies across our African sites to tie our electricity usage to renewable sources, including biogas and solar power. Lightweighting programs reduce the energy used in production, and make transporting products easier and less energy intensive.
We have also analyzed potential climate-related opportunities. In addition, we have undertaken a deeper analysis of our barley sourcing to identify areas of high production potential and assess the possible impacts of climate change. We use a multi-pronged approach, engaging with academia, NGOs, government institutions and industry alliances to understand climate patterns and evaluate future risk.
In South Africa, Castle Lite is switching to brew with renewable electricity. All seven of our breweries within South Africa contribute to this through solar power, with Alrode brewery in Johannesburg also making use of bio-gas facilities.
Our responsibility extends beyond the last sip. Our goal is that by 2025, 100% of our product will be in packaging that is returnable or made from majority recycled content.
Our motivation goes beyond just the environmental impacts – circular packaging enables us to contribute to building economic security and resilience through the creation and support of networks of local businesses that improve livelihoods.
In Nigeria and Ghana, solutions are being trialled to recycle and increase recycled content in polyethylene terephthalate (PET), and in Tanzania, our subsidiary Tanzania Breweries Limited has taken steps to entirely eliminate the use of PET from production lines. Post-consumer waste recycling programs are active in South Africa, and in Zambia through the Manja Pamodzi programme. Additionally, programs are being investigated in Nigeria through a start-up that was shortlisted through the AB InBev Global 100+ Accelerator.
Sustainable communities, planet, and business
AB InBev is rooted in local communities and economies around the world. We believe we are an important engine for economic growth. We are proud of our more than 600-year heritage of brewing beers. As we look forward, we believe we can also be a driving force for a more sustainable and inclusive future.
Our ambitious goals will help build environmental resilience, reduce the harmful consumption of alcohol and promote inclusive growth and sustainable livelihoods across our value chain. We believe these efforts will also drive value for our company, because when our communities thrive, our business thrives.
At AB InBev, we are building a company to last for the next 100 plus years, and we know that brewing great beers depends on a resilient natural environment and thriving communities. We are committed to creating a better world for all our stakeholders, including our colleagues, consumers, communities and ecosystems where we live and work.
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