Is it time to champion in-market beer production?

Is it time to champion in-market beer production?

Heritage, provenance and authenticity have become industry buzzwords: Marketing experts have us believe that these are the attributes consumers desire - and the attributes a brand should fudge at its peril.

Beers such as Anheuser-Busch InBev's Beck's and Sapporo's namesake brand are testament to this. In 2015, the former settled a legal row over whether labelling showed the German beer was brewed in-market for the US, while the latter faced a similar problem a year later.

As sustainability becomes part of the wider consciousness, though, are we approaching a time when boasting about not having a single place of origin might be considered more desirable by consumers?

In the last two months, the CEOs of two of the world's leading brewers have offered their services to just-drinks for interviews on the subject of sustainability - another sign that environmental issues are front and centre.

In February, we asked Cees 't Hart how Carlsberg can convince consumers that in-market brewing is more sustainable while also retaining the authenticity message.

"I think consumers know that brewing locally means less transportation and fewer carbon emissions," he told us. "We always worked that way but ... today, customers, consumers and employees are more aware of and appreciate more deeply Carlsberg's ways of working.

"We intend to bring our purpose to life by opening up our business more and showing what is happening behind the scenes."

Phrases such as "bring our purpose to life", "opening up our business" and "showing what is happening behind the scenes" suggest Carlsberg could be about to make sustainability itself part of the group's 'authenticity' message.

Meanwhile, in an interview this week, Anheuser-Busch InBev CEO Carlos Brito spoke about the company's production footprint, which spans 50 countries, with between eight and 40 breweries in each. He also spoke about locally-sourced raw materials. 

"We're in many communities around the world, we source locally, we produce locally and we distribute and sell locally," Brito said. "If a community does well, then we tend to do well - then, everybody's happy."

As consumers become more in tune with sustainability and all that comes with sustainable business practices, can we expect a big beer campaign, championing local production for local markets?

I hope so.

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