AB InBev lowers abv of Stella Artois, Budweiser and Beck's

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Stella Artois, Budweiser and Beck’s are being cut from 5% to 4.8% abv as rising input costs bite across the market.

Owner AB InBev, which announced price hikes across its portfolio last year, will shift the beers to the lower abv at the end of this month in a move industry insiders have described as a way of reducing duty costs.

The brewer would not give reasons for the reduction, but confirmed only beer sold in the UK was affected.

“Our decision to bring Stella Artois, Budweiser and Beck’s to the UK market at 4.8% abv during 2012 is in line with evolving UK category trends,” said a spokeswoman.

In October, AB InBev said rising raw material and energy costs would force it to pass on a 7.8% price increase across all its brands from 2 January - a strategy being pursued by other brewers.

Industry insiders said some retailers had rejected demands for price increases and producers were cutting abv to offset costs, retain price points and shore up profitability.

“Some of the major mults have denied price increases for three years, and the brewers’ answer is to shift into smaller bottles and move from 5% to 4.8%,” said one industry source.

It has been estimated that cutting Stella Artois’ abv by 0.2% would save AB InBev about £8.6m a year in duty, based on its off-trade sales alone [Nielsen 1 October 2011].

However, it would need to persuade big customers there was something in it for them too, said Tim Wilson, MD of market analysts Wilson Drinks Report, with money being invested back into the brand.

The move could also come at a cost to the brand equity, warned Mintel senior drinks analyst Jonny Forsyth.

Stella Artois, Beck’s and Budweiser will switch to 4.8% abv in the on-trade in April, although Bud Draught will remain at 4.3%.

Readers' comments (14)

  • Anonymous

    why fix something that ain't broke? Kronenbourg it is from now on, then.

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  • Anonymous

    It always was Kronenbourg

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  • Anonymous

    o dear!....what is left for us?.....as above says kroney and or carlsberg export!!......i find this all very annoying to put it BLUNTLY.;0(

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  • Disgrace, san miguel all the way from now on then

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  • Lowered the ABV?
    Well then, lower the price to consumers.

    Enough said.

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  • Stella Artios is known as wife beater around my area, it will now be known as a tarts drink, drop the abv, then drop the price you robbing gits!!!

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  • I've been a dyed in the wool Stella drinker for well over 25 years now...but dropping the ABV from 5.2% to 5% a couple of years ago was pushing it...Now going to 4.8% is a drop to far. I've even started to try Carling!! at 4% its tastes pretty good, is not far behind Stella in ABV....and costs way less...particularly in supermarkets

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  • Could not agree more with robs comments 26/4/12
    Stella artois "reasuringly expensive"!!!!!!
    It was a quality product that you paid a bit more for because it was better, like AJ jeans or a b&w pair of speakers.Now its just an "also ran" real shame !!! time to stick to the aspall cyder all year round ,and forget the most famous "Christmas Beer" Shame

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  • taken stella out of my pub and replaced it with san miguell
    punters stopped buying stella, they wouldnt pay premium price for non premium lager
    stella have shot themselves in the foot.
    sales of san miguell are rising,
    im just a small operator how many more withdrew stella
    myself i think they have made a geat mistake

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  • Agree with all the comments. I first drank Stella in 1974 and still do, but switching to Carling (A more popular pint) more and more. Over the years I have defended Stella as the best premium lager around, stating that quality not quantity matters most. i.e. better to have 3 or 4 Stella than 5 or 6 Carling. Now I am not so sure. At 4.8% Stella may be on its way out.

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