AmBev, the division of Anheuser-Busch InBev, is to cut 146 jobs in Brazil by closing one of its drinks factories in the state of Sao Paulo.

AmBev is closing its factory in Mogi Mirim and shifting production to its other plants in Jacareí, Guarulhos and Jaguariúna, a company spokesperson confirmed to just-drinks today (3 March).

She said that, while group volumes will be unaffected, 146 jobs are to be cut, with a further 20 employees to be offered jobs elsewhere in the business.

AmBev is expected to be hit hardest in the beer sector by a new "social tax" on beer, water and soft drinks in Brazil, effective from 1 January 2009 and which calculates tax payable on the basis of a beverage's retail price.

AmBev said that it has been the only Brazilian brewery to see its federal tax payments increase in 2009, "which led to the need of finding alteratives to make up for this disadvantage in relation to the competition".

It added: "The reallocation of production capacity from Mogi to other factories in the region shows the company's effort to continue seeking cost savings through efficiency gains."

It added that the released workers would continue to benefit from the firm's healthcare plan for five months and "may be hired back" to boost production in the summer of 2010.