AB InBev: The taste of sustainability in procurement
Sustaina sourcing for
world of to
WRIT TEN BY
DALE BENTON PRODUCED BY
ably r the
w w w. a v - i n b e v. c o m
AB InBev has launched its most ambitious sustainability goals in its 650-year history as it bids to create a better world today, and tomorrow B InBev is without a doubt the worldâ€™s largest brewer. With an incredibly diverse global footprint, spanning the Americas, Europe, Africa and Asia Pacific, AB InBev produces the biggest brands in beer. Budweiser, Corona, Stella Artois, these are but a few of the biggest, and arguably most influential, beer brands in the world. But being the number one brewer is not the only measure of success for the company. The company was founded with a dream, a dream of bringing people together for a better world. It delivers on this vision by investing into every step of the value chain. From the farmers and the retailers, right through to entrepreneurs and commu-
nities that the company serves, AB InBev well and truly goes above and beyond. As a company that brews the best beers in the world, it needs to source the best ingredients in a safe and sustainable way and it does so through an unwavering commitment to sustainable best practice. Overseeing the companyâ€™s sustainability and procurement drive throughout Europe is Richard White, Vice President of Procurement and Sustainability Europe. Having worked with AB InBev for nearly 17 years, White has seen first-hand the companyâ€™s exceptional growth as well as
“We cannot even begin to try and deliver these goals on our own,” he says. “We need to work with our suppliers, our private and public partners if we want to achieve them. They are extremely stretching goals and that collaboration is crucial.” – Richard White, Vice President of Procurement and Sustainability (Europe)
more recently, the amplification of
an internal focus. Over the last six to 12
its sustainability agenda.
months we decided as a team to stretch those
“The bottom line is, we’re a
goals further and it comes down to one, clear
beer company and a brewer. We
vision. We want to continue operating as a
brew our beers using four key,
company for the next 100 years and beyond.”
natural ingredients from the land,
As part of this increased focus on sustain-
so there is an inherent link
ability, AB InBev created its “2025
between sustainability and sourc-
Sustainability Goals.” As White noted, AB
ing those ingredients,” he says.
InBev has always focused heavily on sustain-
“We’ve always had sustainability goals, but predominantly from
ability, but as a company that has successfully delivered on its sustainability w w w. a v - i n b e v. c o m
Making an impact on recycling James Piper, managing director of recycling compliance scheme Ecosurety gives his thoughts about how brands can make a positive impact on recycling and explains why they are an essential partner to AB InBev.
In the UK we have compliance schemes to ensure that producersâ€™ recycling responsibilities are met. Brands often pay considerable amounts to offset their environmental obligations, but have no idea if (or how) this money is making a positive difference. Ecosurety is a compliance scheme committed to making a positive and tangible change for UK recycling and the global environment. How? By capturing more materials from consumers and helping them to recycle more, as well as ensuring that materials are actually recycled at the end of the process.
Our partnership with AB InBev As a key partner of AB InBev, we ensure that they achieve their environment responsibilities and obligations in the UK. We have helped them focus on initiatives that increase material capture and routes for recycling, and are helping them on their journey to sustainability. For instance we have run a series of school workshops with one of AB InBevâ€™s metal can manufacturers in order to help educate the younger generation about the importance of recycling.
From creating high profile consumer awareness campaigns, to funding solutions to recycle the un-recyclable, we help major brands to comply with environmental legislation and align this regulatory need with the need for the UK to recycle more. For example, in 2017 we launched our #BringBackHeavyMetal campaign with an environmental charity in order to encourage the nation to look at battery recycling in a new, fun way, achieving a 64% increase in battery recycling and changing consumer behaviour as a result. In addition, we have also backed an industry led effort to increase plastic recycling, especially in regards to black plastic trays which cannot always be detected by optical sorting equipment at recycling facilities.
Over the next few years, we will also be looking to increase our focus to ensure that glass is captured and recycled, as well as build essential UK partnerships to collect and recycle more glass and metals. We believe that consumer brands like AB InBev can, and should play a decisive role in improving recycling rates in the UK and abroad. To find out more about Ecosurety and the work that we do, visit our website: www.ecosurety.com
ambitions for more than a decade its new goals for 2025 has been dubbed the “most ambitious goals yet.” The 2025 goals can be broken up into four key areas, Smart Agriculture, Water Stewardship, Circular Packaging and Climate Action. For White, the only way the company can even begin to achieve and actually deliver on these goals is by leveraging its brands and more importantly, leveraging its brand connection points with its consumers. This is where procurement plays a key role. “Historically, procurement has been seen as a cost-quality focused function,” he says. “But over the years, particularly here at AB InBev it’s definitely grown
supply chain function will have
and become much more of an
on delivering these goals.
innovation and sustainability function.” As the main touch point
With a supplier base exceeding 10,000 suppliers and farmers across Europe alone, AB InBev will have to work much closer and
between the company and its
more collaboratively with these suppliers in
supply base, across its entire
order to truly achieve its goals.
global footprint, it becomes
White agrees as much, citing that with the
clear just how much of an inte-
most ambitious goals in the company’s his-
gral role the procurement and
tory, it cannot complete them alone. w w w. c o m p a n y w e b s i t e . c o m
“We cannot even begin to try and deliver these goals on our own,” he says. “We need to work with our suppliers, our private and public partners if we want to achieve them. They are extremely stretching goals and collaboration is crucial.” With an increasing responsibility on the touch points throughout the supply chain, AB InBev is mapping opportunities across its supplier network. This exercise represents a journey towards defining those key metrics it’ll use to allow its current suppliers, and potential future suppliers, to see that AB InBev walks the walk and invests in future growth. AB InBev truly sees sustainability as
essence, the ultimate guiding principle
not simply related to its business, but as
while carefully described performance
its business. As was the case for the
indicators drive meaningful evaluation.
environmental goals to which AB InBev
“Inherently, as a brewer we need to
committed in the 2012-2017 period, all
make sure that what’s coming into the
its sustainability initiatives both inside
business is sourced sustainably,” he says.
and outside its walls will be comprehen-
“What goes in needs to be right and so
sively measured, tracked and
too does what goes out to our consumer.
benchmarked for improvement.
We set a number of targets and our sup-
White emphasises that the metrics
ply-relationship management programs
behind each initiative are designed
have and will continue to speak very
together with sustainable development
loudly to our commitment there.”
experts and results are audited externally for validation. Sustainability is, in
In any industry, the customer and the consumer are the real key driver and
“Ultimately, our sustainability goals are but one step in a 100-plus year plan that will enable us to continue to excite our customers with amazing brands and do so in a sustainable way.” – Richard White, Vice President of Procurement and Sustainability (Europe)
White believes that its not only the com- this changing consumer mindset and pany that has turned its attentions
White believes that this will prove king in
towards visibility and transparency
the delivery of the sustainability goals.
across the supply chain with regards to sustainability. Consumers are changing and in this
“Our consumers connect with us through our brands and so we have a responsibility to utilise this touch point
modern world where more and more
and continue to innovate and push our
data is accessible in the palm of the
sustainability goals,” he says. “What we
hand, White feels that the consumers
as a business will continue to do in order
have become much more in tune
to achieve this is to activate and amplify
towards the sourcing of the ingredients
them through our consumer touch
or the raw materials in the products
No more is this apparent than in the
To this end, AB InBev remains agile to “Buy a lady a drink” campaign, w w w. a v - i n b e v. c o m
launched through the Stella Artois brand. The campaign? For every multipack of Stella sold,
AB InBev and water.org will provide six months of clean water to people in developing countries, where often women need to walk up to 6 hours to get clean water for their family.
Another strong example of AB InBev inno-
100% of our direct farmers are skilled, connected and financially empowered
vating and amplifying its brand, albeit in the United States, is through a partnership with Enel Green Power, an Italian renewable energy corporation. The switch to renewables for AB InBev’s US breweries alone corresponds to taking 48,000 passenger cars off the road every year. Budweiser bottles will feature a 100% Renewable Electricity symbol. This is to highlight to the consumer that AB InBev now purchases 50% of its entire electricity for its US breweries from wind power, which amounts to more than the total electricity
required to brew Budweiser in the US.
100% of our products will be in packaging that is returnable or made from majority recycled content
“It’s about showing to our consumers the fantastic work that we are doing behind our brands and our innovations towards delivering on our sustainability agenda,” says White. “We need to do so in an authentic, credible
think we can prove that.” With a global footprint, selling
way. The consumer will want to know and
beer in more than 100 countries,
want to feel sure that this is an authentic
AB InBev not only has a respon-
approach to sustainability, and we’re not
sibility to define its own
just paying lip service to it, and I
sustainability agenda but it also
NBEV 2025 SUSTAINABILITY GOALS
WATER STEWARDSHIP 100% of our communities in high stress areas have measurably improved water availability and quality
CLIMATE ACTION 100% of our purchased electricity comes from renewable sources & 25% reduction of carbon emissions across our value chain
has a responsibility to set a
materials that it sources to produce its beers,
standard of best practice that
AB InBev recognises that it can and will play
others can follow.
a huge role in creating a better world for
From the consumers that it
today and tomorrow.
interacts with, the people that
â€œWe must work with our suppliers and
work for the company, to raw
partner with NGOs and government organiw w w. a v - i n b e v. c o m
sations,” he says. “The work that we are doing and what we have achieved should be shared with other companies in the industry because ultimately, it’s for the greater good.” That partnership and collaborative effort is fundamental. As White notes, these sustainability goals are intentionally challenging, pushing AB InBev and the wider industry to double up on its efforts in order to create a better world. Sustainability in isolation is not the key message here. “The creating a better world part of our motto is increasingly important to us and to our consumer,” adds White. “To be a part of a company that not only values sustainability but sees procurement as the spearhead to driving sustainability and innovation,I’m incredibly proud.” “Ultimately, the sustainability goals are but one step in a 100-plus year plan that will enable us to continue to excite our customers with amazing brands and do so in a sustainable way.”
Richard White is Vice-President for Procurement & Sustainability (Europe) at AB InBev Europe, the world’s largest brewer. Richard joined AB InBev in 2001 having previously worked in Sales & Account Management roles with PepsiCo & Bass Brewers in the UK. After leading the On-Premise Trade Marketing team in France, Richard moved into AB InBev’s Global Procurement function in 2006 & spent the next 10 years leading a variety of strategic sourcing initiatives in Marketing & Commercial spend categories such as Media & Advertising, before being appointed to his current role in October 2016. Richard is a UK citizen, holds an honours degree in Business Studies & French from the University of Plymouth, U.K, and currently resides in Brussels.
w w w. a v - i n b e v. c o m
Brouwerijplein, 1 3000 Leuven Belgium +32 16 27 61 11