A UK-based subsidiary of brewing giant AB InBev, Budweiser Brewing Group UK&I, announced plans Thursday to dedicate £115 million, or about $160.7 million, to expand the production capacity and efficiency of two of its UK breweries.
The investment comes as the UK is preparing for an economic recovery from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. AB InBev will add modern and eco-friendly infrastructure to its breweries in Lancashire and South Wales to increase the capabilities of their brewing, canning, and bottling assets. Across the two sites, the company will increase capacity by about 3.6 million hL/yr, or about 630 million pints of beer.
“Like many in the UK, we are focused on a strong recovery of our economy, our communities, and our country. By investing in our breweries with new roles and new technology to increase capacity, we’re ensuring that we can brew and deliver great beers for many years to come,” said Paula Lindenberg, president of Budweiser Brewing Group UK&I, in a release. “We know the beer industry is highly valuable to the UK economy, and we believe our investments in our UK operations will be a catalyst for the recovery post-COVID.”
The Magor Brewery in South Wales is being upgraded with a new bottling line, eight new 8,000 hL fermenting units, efficiency improvements like increased speeds on several lines, and an energy conserving wort cooler. Once the new technologies are installed and changes made, the site’s capacity will be boosted by 1.6 million hL. AB InBev’s £72 million investment there is slated to create 32 new operations and management jobs.
A new canning line will be installed at the Samlesbury Brewery in Lancashire, and the company plans to make a number of modifications to its brewing, utilities, and logistics assets at the facility. Efficiency and equipment improvements will also be carried out at the site. 23 new operations and specialist engineering roles will open as a result of the company’s £45 million investment in Lancashire.
Budweiser Brewing Group UK&I said the work at the breweries will enable it to meet increasing demand for beer.
A November 2020 report by global market insights firm Mintel noted that beer sales slumped in the UK during the COVID-19 crisis because of restrictions and the shutdown of bars and pubs. To counter the impacts of the pandemic, senior food and drink analyst Richard Caines suggested that beer firms focus on at-home drinking, including remote socialization.
With this investment project, it appears that AB InBev is heeding Mintel’s advice given the company is investing in bottling and canning improvements at the site instead of kegged beer-related assets.