AB InBev has confirmed that it has now started production of its iconic Mexcian brand Corona in other countries like China, Brazil, Colombia, Belgium and in the UK. Production in China already started in May and the other markets have followed in the meantime. It’s the first time in history, that the famous lager will be produced outside its home country.
The installed capacity in Mexico is no longer sufficient to meet the growing demand for Corona in the world, said AB InBev’s CEO Carlos Brito in a conference call with analysts. “Corona, our most premium global brand, continued to offer very solid results with 21.1% revenue growth outside of Mexico (in the third quarter of 2019). The brand continues to grow with strong double digits, with solid results from South Africa and Western Europe as well,”said Brito. “Brewing Corona locally allows us to increase market availability, better serve our consumers and reduce our carbon footprint through more streamlined logistics,” he added.
Critics argue that the brand will lose its soul because its brand identity is focused around Mexican heritage. “Corona beer had lost the Mexican flag after its sale to AB InBev, but now its ‘DNA’ will lose some Aztec features, “diagnosed The Mazatlán Post, a Mexican online newspaper.
Similarly, Beck’s beer from Germany, another AB InBev brand which was once one of the best-selling imported beer brands in the United States lost its authenticity when AB InBev transferred U.S. volumes from Bremen, Germany to St. Louis, Missouri in 2012. Meanwhile the brand is being brewed at more than a dozen production sites worldwide including Russia, Vietnam and New Zealand. In 2015 AB Inbev agreed to pay every consumer of Beck’s beer in the U.S. a refund of up to USD 50 because the company “misleads consumers into believing that Beck's Beer is German, still imported from Germany, claiming that Beck's Beer 'originated in Germany' with 'German quality' while 'brewed under the German Purity Law of 1516,” the U.S. district court in Miami ruled at that time.
With Corona, AB InBev points out that the beer produced overseas will be exactly the same as the one brewed in Mexico. “Each brewery which will produce Corona has to maintain the brand’s legacy following exactly the same brewing process used in Mexico for more than 90 years,” the company said. In addition, a Mexican brewmaster will supervise the process in every brewery which starts brewing Corona.
“We take care that [the companies will] have the same manufacturing process, the same raw materials and continue with the same legacy of the brand. And as you know, many of our global brands, international brands are made locally as Budweiser in China, Stella Artois in Brazil, Bud Light in Mexico. Therefore, it is not unknown,” Brito explained.
AB InBev owns the global brand rights of Corona with the exception of the United States since it merged in 2013 with Mexican beer producer Grupo Modelo and had to sell brand rights in the U.S. to rival Constellation Brands in order to meet antitrust requirements.
In the UK, the local production allows to sell Corona in kegs, which is a novelty to the UK. After a successful test in several pubs, the company announced a few weeks ago to launch the product with immediate effect. Budweiser Brewing Group UK & Ireland, AB InBev’s local arm has developed a beer tower with a glass viewing pane that shows a lightly effervescing liquid to highlight Corona’s apparent refreshing nature.
Attached to the side of the tower is a lime holder, to continue the lime ritual which is integral to the Corona serve. However, purist point out that a Corona served on draught does not need a lime anymore because the lime was originally introduced to clean the tip of the bottle from the rust which was left over from rusty crown corks in the early days of the brand.