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The head of Anheuser-Busch InBev has admitted the brewer neglected its core Budweiser brand in the US this year as it switched focus to non-beer lines.

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In a conference call with investors, A-B InBev CEO Carlos Brito said he was disappointed with Budweiser's lost US market share in third-quarter results released earlier today (31 October). “We think this is because of all the focus we gave to the new innovations that we put in the marketplace that had a great yield,” Brito said. “But something had to give and that something ended up being Budwesier.”

Brito said his company targeted “alco-beverages as opposed to beer”, while suppliers and distributors were attracted by high-margin innovations such as Lime-a-Rita. “There is a high correlation for beer between how much it is displayed and how much is sold,” Brito said.

The admission follows a Bloomberg BusinessWeek article last week claiming that A-B InBev has made changes to its Budweiser recipe in the US. The article suggested Budweiser was being tailored more for markets such as China, where sales are booming, than for American consumers. However, the company denied any changes had been made to the recipe of its flagship beer

Brito said today that the group remains “totally committed” to Budweiser and has learned from recent mistakes.

“We now understand what's going well, what's not going well and what needs to be added,” Brito said, adding that the brand will renew its focus on music tie-ins such as the “Budweiser Made in America” platform.

Brito also acknowledged the potential of Budweiser extensions, such as dark lager Budweiser Black Crown, details of which were uncovered last week, and the “very interesting” Project 12 craft beer programme.

“We see the need and the opportunity to really do some line extensions on Budwesier to show the craftmanship, the history, the roots of this brand,” Brito said. 


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