The Food Journal and Food, Nutrition & Science

An alliance between The Lempert Report and The Center for Food Integrity

Sustainability Series: Anheuser-Busch

Sustainability Series: Anheuser-Busch

Sustainability

March 12, 2015

For more than 160 years, Anheuser-Busch has carried on a legacy of brewing America’s most popular beers. As the U.S. arm of Anheuser-Busch InBev, Anheuser-Busch operates 15 breweries, 17 distributorships and 23 agricultural and packaging facilities across the United States. We talked to Shana Ruffus, director, CSR-Environment, Anheuser-Busch about how conserving natural resources is simply good business.

How does your business define sustainability?

Anheuser-Busch InBev shares the dream to be the best beer company bringing people together for a better world. Sustainability is one of the pillars of better world and a hallmark of how we’ve operated for many years.  

How are you incorporating sustainable practices into your business?

Our global environmental goals provide the foundation for incorporating sustainability practices across our global footprint. Those goals are translated into targets for each zone, country and ultimately each facility – brewery, can plant or malt plant. 

We work closely with our breweries and the colleagues responsible for our performance to monitor progress and adjust strategies. Our Voyager Plant Optimization (VPO) system and other management systems provide the framework for continual tracking, reporting, improvement and best practice sharing within our facilities. We also work very closely with partners, vendors, and stakeholders outside our walls to address sustainability throughout our supply chain. 

What are your short term and long term goals?

We issued new environmental goals in summer 2014 for achievement by end of 2017, they are listed here.

By using our VPO and other systems and short term targets to drive continuous improvement, each of these long-term goals is supported by a tactical roadmap. 

Where do you think you’ll have the biggest impact?

We continue to make significant strides in reducing water use and conserving water throughout our process. For example, at our U.S. breweries we have reduced water consumption by 32 percent in the last five years and 45 percent over the past decade. Recognizing the important role agriculture plays in our supply chain, we are working closely with our growers and other local stakeholders to reduce water use and share sustainability best practices.

We also announced we are replacing one of our largest brewery fleets with cleaner-burning Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) tractors. The 66-tractor Houston fleet will switch from diesel engines to CNG-powered tractors in early 2015. This marks our first conversion of an entire brewery fleet and represents a significant milestone in achieving its goal to reduce carbon emissions.

How do you measure your progress?

Our Voyager Plant Optimization (VPO) system and other management systems provide the framework for continual tracking, reporting, improvement and best practice sharing. We also benchmark against similar companies and industries. 

How do retailers factor into your efforts? 

Similar to how we set global environmental goals across our supply chain, many of our retail partners do the same. We want our suppliers to reduce their impacts and to operate in the most sustainable manner possible. Retailers also want the same of their suppliers. We all have a vested interest in conserving natural resources, which is simply good business and the right thing to do. 

Why are sustainable business practices important to the food industry?

We all share this planet, and businesses and individuals alike have to share responsibility for protecting it now to ensure our future.  

Why are sustainable business practices important to the consumer?

Consumers are becoming increasingly interested in where their products originate and what is involved in getting them to market. It is no secret that they want to purchase products from companies who are doing more than just selling products. Our mission to be the best beer company bringing people together for a better world reflects the importance we place on how we do business, including environmental performance.