Key Anheuser-Busch ‘Beyond Beer’ VP Randy Ornstein Suddenly Exits

The vice president of Anheuser-Busch’s Beyond Beer division has departed the company, Brewbound has confirmed.

Randy Ornstein — who oversaw the sales strategy for alcoholic brands like Bon & Viv spiked seltzer, and non-alcoholic offerings such as Hiball Energy – left the company on June 4.

“We want to thank Randy for his contributions to A-B and wish him all the best in his next endeavor,” Brendan Whitworth, A-B’s chief sales officer in the U.S., wrote to Brewbound.

The reasons behind Ornstein’s exit are unclear.

According to Whitworth, a replacement has been identified and an announcement is expected later this month.

“We continue to be excited about the opportunities in the ‘Beyond Beer’ space, and look forward to continuing our positive momentum,” he added.

In a post on LinkedIn, Ornstein called A-B “the most amazing beverage company in the world.”

“I have had an incredible ride selling brands like Bud Light, Michelob Ultra, Ritas and Teavana to retailers all over the US,” he wrote. “Most of all, I will miss the friends I have made along the way. On to the next adventure, which I will unveil at a later date. Stay tuned.”

Ornstein spent less than a year in the Beyond Beer role, according to his LinkedIn profile, but had been with A-B since 2005. During that time, he held a variety of category management positions, most notably serving as the vice president of the A-B’s Walmart and Sam’s club business for three years.

In late 2016, Ornstein began working on A-B’s emerging non-alcoholic portfolio, which initially began taking shape after it partnered with Starbucks to manufacture and distribute ready-to-drink bottles of the coffee giant’s Teavana brand.

As A-B began investing deeper into the non-alcoholic, spirits and wine categories – striking deals with Hiball Energy, Swish Beverages and Cutwater Spirits, among others – Ornstein took on an expanded role, leading the sales department of Beyond Beer, which as of last December included 55 employees dedicated exclusively to non-alcoholic products.

Speaking to a crowd of beverage entrepreneurs and executives who attended the 2018 BevNET Live conference in Santa Monica, California, last December, Ornstein said A-B’s non-alcoholic vision was to “disrupt the fastest-growing beverage segments with better-for-you options that meet our consumers needs.”

At the time, he cited “health and wellness” as an “unstoppable trend” that A-B was watching.

Shortly after, A-B rolled out reformulated versions of its Bon & Viv spiked seltzer offering that contained 90 calories, zero grams of sugar and checked in at 4.5 percent ABV. The product, originally known simply as “Spiked Seltzer” previously contained 140 calories and was 6 percent ABV.

In addition to Bon & Viv and Hiball, A-B’s Beyond Beer division includes offerings such as the “Ritas” franchise, BABE canned wines, Cutwater Spirits, and the DrinkWorks home bar machine and cocktail pods.

Editor’s Note: Beer Business Daily, a subscription-based publication, was first to report news of Ornstein’s departure. 

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