Friday, March 30, 2012
Desperate To Turn Sales Around, Anheuser-Busch Tries New Beers And Bullying Wholesalers
Anheuser-Busch InBev is desperate to turn its sales around. Sure, it's still the biggest beer company in the US, but shipments have fallen for three straight years, thanks to the growing popularity of small, independent craft brewers.
But this year Budweiser's got a plan, president of North American operations Luiz Edmond tells the Wall Street Journal: It's going to produce more beers, while leaning on distributors not to carry the competition.
Anheuser will introduce 19 new products this year, its biggest rollout since the InBev merger.
Some will aim to compete in the craft market, like additions to its Shock Top line, or boast higher alcohol content, like the 6% Bud Light Platinum, which Edmond calls a "game changer."
Still others, like Bud Light Lime-a-Rita, will be malt beverages bearing little resemblance to beer. At the same time, Bud has urged 500 wholesalers to distribute fewer rival beers, warning that it will act against those who don't.
An unapologetic Edmond says wholesalers must pick sides, and show "loyalty" to InBev.