Anheuser-Busch InBev plans to cut 10% of its workforce in its native Belgium, due to falling demand for beer in the country.

A-B InBev said yesterday (7 January) that it expects to cut 263 jobs from its 2,700-strong workforce in Belgium.

The brewer, which owns Belgian beer brands Stella Artois, Jupiler and Leffe, said it will reorganise its domestic operations in the face of falling demand for beer.

"In Belgium, A-B InBev has succeeded in maintaining volumes on priority brands such as Jupiler and Leffe," said the brewer, adding that it has launched seven new beers in the country over the last three years.

This has been made posssible due to a rigorous cost structure, said the group.

"However, the Belgian beer market has continued to decline," the Leuven-based brewer added. Per Capita beer consumption fell by around a fifth, from 99 litres to 82 litres, between 2000 and 2008. 

A-B InBev volume sales in Belgium slipped by nearly 2% in the first nine months of 2009, compared to the same period of 2008.

Belgian consumers, the group said, are drinking a more diverse range of premium beers in lower quantities, which means brewers must be "more flexible" to adapt to demand.

The brewer, which has sought to cut costs across its business in the last year, said its reorganisation will secure its "long-term" operations in Belgium.

A-B InBev has retained its global headquarters in the country, since InBev paid an industry record US$52bn to acquire US-based Anheuser-Busch in late 2009.

There were unconfirmed reports yesterday that workers at one A-B InBev brewery in eastern Belgium had taken plant managers hostage, in protest at the job cuts plan.

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