It works: decreasing the mean ABV of beer is an effective strategy to reduce the harmful use of alcohol

It works: decreasing the mean ABV of beer is an effective strategy to reduce the harmful use of alcohol


Beer has been around for quite some time.

There’s something about that refreshing fermented yeast that makes it such a highly enjoyable product. However, as science and technology have progressed, so has our understanding of the different health implications that irresponsible drinking can have on society and on our body, when not consumed in moderation. As the world’s largest brewer, it’s our job to be at the forefront of these scientific findings to make sure that our consumers are enjoying our products responsibly.

One of our Global Smart Drinking Goals is to influence behavior change through choice, one is the Social Norms goal that is focused on implementing social norms programs and social marketing campaigns to shift consumer behaviors, and embed Smart Drinking into our marketing initiatives, in order to contribute to the reduction of harmful use of alcohol globally. Smart Drinking has four very clear goals that it wishes to accomplish:

  1. Reduce the harmful use of alcohol by at least 10% in six cities by the end of 2020. Implement the best practices globally by the end of 2025.
  2. Invest $1 billion USD across our markets in dedicated social marketing campaigns and related programs by the end of 2025.
  3. Ensure No- or Lower- Alcohol beer products represent at least 20% of AB InBev’s global beer volume by the end of 2025.
  4. Place a Guidance Label on all of our beer products in all of our markets by the end of 2020. Increase alcohol health literacy by the end of 2025.

Today, I’d like to talk about Goal number 3 with you. As you may have seen, we’ve been expanding our portfolio of non-alcoholic beers for our consumers, such as Budweiser Zero, which has delicious taste of a traditional Budweiser. Additionally in Colombia, we launched Aguila 0.0, a beer that was fermented and made just like the original Aguila, just that instead it goes through an alcohol extraction process towards the end. The extracted alcohol is then used as energy for our brewery.  Besides wanting to provide our beer aficionados with other options and alternatives to enjoy our beers, the underlying goal is to do so with the purpose of reducing the harmful use of alcohol. Another action we took, for example was decreasing the ABV (Alcohol by Volume) in our Budweiser brand across the United Kingdom.

Some have questioned the efficacy of these actions in the past, but with no substantial evidence.  On the other side, a recent scientific paper drafted by Dr. Peter Anderson, Eva Jané Llopis and Jürgen Rehm, from University of Oxford, was recently published in the Journal Alcohol and Alcoholism.  The authors discovered that increasing the proportion of no- and low- alcohol beers and decreasing the mean ABV of beer can be an effective strategy to reduce the harmful use of alcohol at scale, using AB InBev as a case-study.

Here’s: what they found:

  1. The introduction of a lower alcohol beer and the reformulation of an existing regular strength beer product to have less alcohol in it were associated with reductions in grams of alcohol purchased
  2. There is no evidence of consumers switching to higher strength products
  3. Greater decreases in purchases were found in the younger age groups, the highest purchasing households in terms of grams of alcohol, class groups D and E, and Scotland.

These studies fill us with great optimism, as we begin to see the results of our efforts as a company take shape and gain evidence to back them. This paper provides powerful public health arguments in favor of a regulatory and tax environment that supports lower alcohol concentration beverages “across all beer and other alcohol products” – As the results continue, we will continue expanding our NABLAB portfolio, and striving to achieve all our Smart Drinking goals.

Link to study:

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It works: decreasing the mean ABV of beer is an effective strategy to reduce the harmful use of alcohol