This comes to a surprise. Only a few years ago, AB InBev said that Hoegaarden, a Belgium style wheat beer, was no longer a European priority brand and money would be shifted to other brands. Now, the world’s leading brewer made a turn-around and announced to invest EUR 42 million in the expansion of the Hoegaarden plant in the town of the same name, 50 kilometers south-east of Brussels,Belgium.
Waning popularity in Europe for Hoegaarden had caused the Leuven-based brewer in the last years to shift money from the traditional brand to other brands like the lower alcohol radler varieties of Hoegaarden. The original beer, which is traditionally popular in Belgium, the Netherlands and France and to a minor extend as well in the United Kingdom was supposed to get less attention and sales support in Europe. (inside.beer, 22.11.2016) In addition AB InBev started to shift production from its original brewing site in Belgium to other breweries of the group in growing markets like China and Vietnam.
AB InBev’s announcement marks therefore a shift in strategy which can be attributed to the success of the product. "Hoegaarden's popularity and worldwide volumes grew by no less than 35% in the last five years. The extra investments are the result and a nice reward for Hoegaarden, our Belgian beer that is making a beautiful journey worldwide", says Hoegaarden’s brewery manager Karen Rombaut.
AB InBev will invest the money over the next two years in an expansion of its bottling plant as well as additional fermentation and storage capacities. The investment will also offer more possibilities for the international delivery of beer from the brewery in Hoegaarden.