Agreement is First in American Brewer’s Import Push; Gives Grolsch Brands Access to Anheuser-Busch Marketing, Sales Resources And to its Wholesaler Network
February 21, 2006
ST. LOUIS (February 21, 2006) – Anheuser-Busch will become the U.S. importer of the upscale Grolsch traditional European beer brands, giving the American brewer a well-established and popular entry in the growing U.S. import category, the two brewers jointly announced today.
The agreement gives the Dutch brands access to the Anheuser-Busch broad marketing and sales expertise and to its wide reaching U.S. distribution network. The deal is part of an aggressive push by Anheuser-Busch into high-end beer categories.
“Grolsch is a quality, well-known name among American beer drinkers, making it an ideal partner to begin building our import portfolio around,” said Anheuser Busch Inc. President August A. Busch IV. “Together with our wholesalers, we are excited to gain these brands and help them grow with the talents and resources only our team can offer.”
Grolsch Premium Lager, the Dutch brewer’s largest-selling brand, is famous for its distinctive taste, iconic “swing-top” bottle closure and green embossed bottle. The deal also includes the entire Grolsch brand line-up, including the small, but growing Grolsch Amber Ale, Grolsch Light Lager and Grolsch Blonde Lager.
The agreement will broaden Grolsch’s U.S. distribution by giving the Dutch brewer access to the Anheuser Busch network of nearly 600 independent wholesalers, who will have the opportunity to add the coveted European brand names to their businesses – a critical addition as imported beer is one of the fastest-growing segments of the U.S. beer industry.
The U.S. import category represents approximately 12.4 percent of the total U.S. beer market, selling 25.6 million barrels in 2005.* It grew about 7.2 percent in 2005* and has experienced an average growth rate of 5 percent over the past five years.
“For Grolsch, this is an ‘American Dream come true.’ I can only call it a breakthrough,” said Ab Pasman, chief executive officer of Royal Grolsch N.V. “This alliance confirms our international growth strategy, which is based on the conviction that there is most certainly a place in the international beer market for a strong and independent premium brand such as Grolsch. Anheuser-Busch is an ideal partner in this strategy. I also want to take this opportunity to thank our present partner, USB, for its cooperation over the past few years.”
The agreement will be effective January 2007. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed. The imported Grolsch beer will continue to be brewed at the Grolsch brewery in Enschede, Netherlands, for export to the United States.
Anheuser-Busch is focused on expanding its participation in the import and high-end beer categories as a key growth strategy for its U.S. business. Anheuser-Busch brews and sells two of Japanese brewer Kirin Brewery’s beer brands in the United States – Kirin Ichiban and Kirin Light. In some areas of the country, Anheuser-Busch wholesalers carry Corona and the other beer brands of Mexican brewer Grupo Modelo. Anheuser Busch holds a 50 percent share in Grupo Modelo, Mexico’s leading brewer, and a 27 percent share in Tsingtao, the No. 1 brewer in China.
Anheuser-Busch continues to explore other import possibilities.
Based in Enschede, Holland, Grolsch was founded in 1615 and holds more than 14 percent share of the Dutch beer market. Grolsch Premium Lager is the second-largest selling lager in the Netherlands and is sold in 60 countries globally. Its key markets are the Netherlands, United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and France.
Based in St. Louis, Anheuser Busch is the leading American brewer holding 48.8 percent of the U.S. beer sales. It markets and sells more than 40 beer brands in the United States. The company brews the world’s largest-selling beers, Budweiser and Bud Light.