Alliance in U.S. Expands Beyond Brewing and Distributing; Adds Marketing of Kirin Brands in New Licensing Agreement
August 24, 2006
Anheuser-Busch’s 10-year alliance with Japanese brewer Kirin in the United States has expanded, with the American brewer assuming marketing and selling responsibility for the Kirin brands, the two companies announced today.
Anheuser-Busch has brewed and distributed Kirin Ichiban and Kirin Light for Kirin in the United States since 1996. The new agreement assigns Anheuser-Busch full oversight of the Kirin brands in the United States, while Kirin retains trademark responsibility for the brands.
“American consumers have a great interest in high-end Asian cuisine and culture, including Asian beer,” said August A. Busch IV, president of Anheuser-Busch Inc. “We are aggressively expanding our range of high-end beers to meet the diverse needs of our consumers. The Kirin beers are of the highest quality and have enormous potential, as the Asian influence is rapidly growing. This new agreement enhances a truly global relationship between our two companies. Now, we also share a deeper commitment to each other’s success.”
Referring to the new agreement, Hitoshi Oshima, CEO of Kirin International, stated that “Kirin has been working with Anheuser-Busch in the U.S. market for almost 10 years and we have great respect for them. Anheuser-Busch and Kirin share mutual understanding to enhance brand value through consumer focus and quality product.”
Anheuser-Busch brews Kirin beers at its Los Angeles brewery, allowing U.S. consumers to enjoy Kirin products with brewery-fresh flavor. Kirin beers are distributed in the United States through the Anheuser Busch network of 600 independent wholesalers.
The new agreement transforms the relationship from contract brewing to licensed brewing, with Anheuser-Busch assuming profit and loss responsibility for the business in the United States. The new marketing role for Anheuser Busch succeeds Kirin Brewery of America LLC, a joint venture between the two companies formed under their 1996 agreement. The distribution network is unchanged.
The two brewers also have had a relationship in the Japanese market since 1993, where Kirin brews, distributes and sells Budweiser, the flagship brand of Anheuser-Busch.
Based in St. Louis, Anheuser-Busch is the leading American brewer, holding a 48.8% share of U.S. beer sales. The company brews the world’s largest-selling beers, Budweiser and Bud Light. Anheuser-Busch also owns a 50% share in Grupo Modelo, Mexico’s leading brewer, and a 27% share in Tsingtao, the No. 1 brewer in China. Anheuser-Busch ranked No. 1 among beverage companies in FORTUNE Magazine’s Most Admired U.S. and Global Companies lists in 2006. Anheuser-Busch is one of the largest theme park operators in the United States, is a major manufacturer of aluminum cans and is America’s top recycler of aluminum cans.
Kirin Brewery Co. Ltd., established in 1907, was one of Japan’s earliest beer brewers. In more recent years Kirin has extended beyond its traditional domestic beer operations to develop a strong portfolio of business in overseas alcohol beverages, soft drinks, pharmaceuticals and other areas. Kirin has steadily grown its business platform to become the No.1 beer business throughout Asia and Oceania, working independently and with affiliates such as Lion Nathan and San Miguel to emerge as the leading alcohol beverage and soft drink company.