AB InBev is to launch several new products on the Belgian market this year. The brewer also intends to invest over 100 million euros in its four brewing sites in Belgium (Leuven, Jupille, Hoegaarden and Sint-Pieters-Leeuw), announced Leuven Eric Lauwers, CEO of AB InBev Benelux & France, when he was in Leuvan on Thursday. AB InBev’s market share rose slightly last year, currently sitting at around 56%. Jupiler reaped the benefits of the World Cup event, and hence outshone the global market, as did Leffe. Hoegaarden Dew is maintaining its growth at 8%. Exports to the United States, which represent 24% of total exports, are still on the rise.
Mr. Lauwers has called 2015 their “innovation year”. 2 new versions of Hoegaarden Radler (Citrus and Lemon&Lime) will thus be launched. Sometimes mistaken for shandy, the Radler beer is already well known outside Belgium, especially in Germany. In Belgium, Alken-Maes have been selling it since the spring of 2013 with a classic Maes pils beer mixed with lemon juice. Another newbie from the Belgian world leader is Leffe Royale. Launched in 2012, three new variations will be launched, each produced with a different type of hop. Two products that are performing well abroad will also be introduced onto the Belgian market: Stella Artois cider, which is popular in the UK and already guzzles 300,000 hectolitres of each year, and Cubanisto, a beer-rum combination which has delighted the French, unsurprisingly in light of the success of drinks such as the Desperados-tequila combination, launched in the 90s by Fischer from Alsace and later taken over by Heineken.
AB InBev intends to continue investing in the Stella Artois brewery in Leuven by injecting 24 million euros into it for a state-of-the-art bottling line with a capacity of 800,000 hectolitres. The investment is possible thanks to the growth of the company’s exports and will create 24 jobs. 70% of the Louvain production is destined for export. 1.5 million euros will also be spent on upgrading the visitors’ centre.
Lastly, the flagship brand Juliper will get an innovative disposable bottle and its crates are set for a face lift.