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Supply chain disruption has brought ‘massive change’ to beer market: AB InBev CEO

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Anheuser-Busch InBev CEO Michel Doukeris joins 'Influencers with Andy Serwer' to discuss the pandemic and its impact on the beer business.

Video transcript

ANDY SERWER: I want to ask you about the pandemic, though, specifically and your business, Michel, because obviously that's rocked everybody's business, including yours. In what way did the pandemic specifically impact your company? And how, specifically, have you responded?

MICHEL DOUKERIS: In many, many ways. I think that every time that I talk about the pandemic, I always start from businesses, they come and go. Opportunities, they come and go. But this pandemic brought some things that are hard for you to deal with.

So a lot of people, people that we all know, they had losses that are losses that you cannot repair. And we are always trying to do everything that we can to be close to these people and have our prayers and our thoughts with them. But from the business standpoint, I think that was very disruptive for the supply chain, especially, when you think globally.

We had an advantage early on given the footprint that we have. We saw this happening in Asia, moving to Europe. So we could learn from what was going on. And we prepared ourselves very well with three priorities, like the safety of our people, business continuity, and how could we support the communities around us? Because we are very local as a beer business, right?

So beer happens in the country, in the state, in the city where we have operations. It's either on our breweries or with our wholesalers. We are very close to the communities. And then in doing that, we first used all the resources we had to make sure that our people, they were safe in our operations.

And we had outstanding practices that we used globally to protect our people. Business continued to go on through the pandemic, which was very interesting, because the category then proved to be very resilient. And beer is this kind of sense of normalcy, right? So people could not go out, could not go to the theater, could not travel but they could all go to a grocery store, buy some beer, and have some good time at home cooking, or on a barbecue, or just unwinding, right?

And then in terms of supporting the community, we did a lot from building hospitals in Brazil, to supporting the vaccination campaigns here and in Africa, to having our teams really partnering with community partners to bring not only normalcy, but also solutions from the moment of the pandemic. And the main disruption that everybody is still dealing with, not only in beer but across all categories, is supply chain.

So commodities prices went up. Aluminum disappeared because overnight, people stopped going to bars. And everybody was buying convenient packages in convenience stores and groceries. So just imagine resetting your entire footprint to sell more cans than bottles or draft beer.

So this is a massive change. And then when you have the reopening, it's all over again on the other direction. So now you have cans, then you don't have bottles, then people are struggling with draft beer. But we've been adjusting well. We've been using a lot of data and analytics throughout the entire pandemic to very quickly shift from one side to the other, anticipate a little bit the movements, and have a good surface level to the customers.

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