just On Call - Heineken CEO hints at craft boost as brewer chases diversity
Heineken will add SKUs to its portfolio
Heineken's CEO has said the company is to add premium lines to its portfolio - including craft brands - to stave off competition from independent brewers.
Speaking to analysts at the Deutsche Bank Global Consumer Conference in Paris today, Jean-François van Boxmeer said Heineken will widen line extensions for its mainstream brands as well as scale up smaller brands such as the Belgium ale Affligem. He said the company will work to increase its SKUs while maintaining productivity.
However, in a hint at boosting Heineken's craft credentials, the CEO added: "It’s (about) offering more choice - including some craft proposals."
According to van Boxmeer, the rise of craft beer means Heineken must meet growing consumer demand for diversity. "If you don’t listen to that you’re going to be out of business," he said.
Heineken has so far stayed away from craft acquisitions, unlike rival Anheuser-Busch InBev. The Belgium-based firm has bought three US craft brewers in just over a year - Elysian Brewing Co, Blue Point Brewery and 10 Barrel Brewing Co.
In a wide-ranging talk, van Boxmeer also said that "it's now time to invest in Africa" as the continent looks set to grow beer consumption over the next 25 year. He said Heineken plans to build more greenfield production sites in Africa, without giving details.
Heineken opened a new brewery in Ethiopia last year, and in January said it was running at full capacity.
Earlier this week, Chicago-based market research firm IRI released a list of the biggest craft beer brands in the US off-premise. Here, for the 12 months to 15 May, is the top 20....
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