Anheuser-Busch to turn its beers ‘green,’ CEO says

By Food and BeverageFOXBusiness

Exclusive: One-on-one with Anheuser-Busch’s new CEO

In his first sit down as CEO, Anheuser-Busch’s Michel Doukeris talks about the future of the iconic beer maker and how President Trump’s tariffs could impact the cost of beer and jobs.

Despite woes of potential beer price hikes due to President Trump’s aluminum tariffs, iconic beer maker Anheuser-Busch announced on Tuesday that it’s still investing heavily in the U.S. with plans to turn its entire beverage line “green.”

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The parent of the Belgium-based beverage giant, AB InBev, said it’s ramping up its sustainability efforts by 2025 by making all its classics, including Budweiser and Bud Light, using 100% renewable energy, cutting its carbon footprint by 25%.

But the company’s new CEO Michel Doukeris, who has only been at the helm for less than four months, says he doesn’t want his drinkers to think of this as a brand new initiative.

“It's not something that is new for us. We've been working with sustainability goals for the last several years. As a matter of fact, we set some goals for 2020 which we achieved all of them ahead of schedule. So we are now raising the bar and coming up with these new 2025 sustainability goals,” Doukeris told FOX Business in an exclusive interview.

Anheuser-Busch’s new goals comes on the heels of other big sustainability announcements from companies such as P&G, Nestle and McDonald’s.

What’s more, last December, the brewer announced that it’s pre-ordering 40 of Tesla’s new electric semi-tricks at the estimated price tag of $150,000 to $200,000 in an effort to reduce its supply chain emission exposure.

But Doukeris insists the new environmental efforts won’t jack up the price of its beers, but Trump’s new 10% tariff aluminum will.

“We are always concerned with the cost of input and output costs for consumers and retailers and aluminum is a very important item. So as these costs [go] up, it will dramatically impact the final cost of beer and can have impact on the number of jobs,” he said.

Last month, the CEO of AB InBev Carlos Brito told Bloomberg that he believes the cost could rise as much as 3% before inflation.

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That increase doesn’t bode well for Doukeris, who has been tasked to drive up U.S. sales on its iconic brews, Budweiser and Bud Light, after multiple years of sales declines and millennials opting for craft beers instead.

According to data from Susquehanna Financial Group, the company’s organic top line growth is mainly coming from emerging markets at 60%, with volumes in the U.S. falling 3% in 2017 from January to September.

Eric Shephard, executive editor of Beer Insights, says that dip isn’t just coming from millennials either, but customers overall, who are opting for lower-calorie and lighter beers.

Doukeris is hoping its new Bud Light Orange and organic Michelob Ultra Pure Gold are a step in the right direction to not only attract millennials, but female beer drinkers as well.

“[Women] are a strong trend and [a] very important part for our consumer base and we need to serve them further than we were doing before,” he said.