Anheuser-Busch InBev, via its “High End” craft division in the U.S., today announced the launch of a new initiative aimed at “building a better future” for the beer industry.
Called Elevate, the program is A-B’s effort to make its 11 U.S. craft beer and cider brands better stewards of the industry.
Speaking to Brewbound, High End president Felipe Szpigel said the new initiative would include commitments and investments into four key areas: beer, the environment, communities and the industry.
“Elevate is our way of forging a new collaborative path forward for the entire industry,” the company wrote on the recently launched elevatebeer.com website.
So what does Elevate entail?
The company has said it will print “best consumed by” dates on all of its craft packages by the end of 2018, so “consumers know the timeframe in which their beers taste the best.”
“It’s a key step that will ensure our beer drinkers enjoy the best tasting, freshest beer,” Szpigel told Brewbound. “It’s something we hope is followed by the entire industry.”
Some of A-B’s High End brands will also continue to print both “best by” as well as “packaged on” dates, he said, noting that one of the company’s craft breweries — Colorado’s Breckenridge Brewery — does not currently offer either.
A-B has also committed to using 100 percent solar and wind power at its craft breweries by 2020 while simultaneously reducing water usage at those facilities by 20 percent during the same period.
“We are collectively motivated to double down on our commitment to achieve best-in-class environmental standards,” Szpigel said, noting that A-B would install solar panels at all of its craft breweries next year.
A-B has also created a $2 million donation budget for its craft partners –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 – which each company can use to assist non-profit organizations in their local communities.
Lastly, the initiative will include investments that “elevate” the beer experience for consumers and industry members alike. The company plans to host regular safety seminars for industry members at all of its craft breweries in 2018.
A-B said it would also work to identify new drinking experiences for consumers and actively identify ways to bring new drinkers into the category
“The incredible growth enjoyed by the overall beer industry has slowed,” Szpigel told Brewbound. “We need to be real about this and work together to return the beer industry to the growth we know it deserves.”
Spzigel declined to share specific investment figures for the entire Elevate initiative, saying only that it was “significant.”
A-B has also retained accounting firm KPMG to audit the initiative and provide “third-party, independent verification” of its stated commitments.
Elevate was the product of multiple “Craft Advisory Board” meetings over several months, Spzigel added.