How AB InBev is powering sustainability and development among India’s rural communities
In 2015, the United Nations adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), also known as the Global Goals, to catalyze solutions that are critical to the betterment of both humanity and the planet. The 17 SDGs are based on the belief that development must balance social, economic and environmental sustainability. In line with these goals, Anheuser Busch InBev (AB InBev), the world’s leading brewer, has been creating impact through its key sustainability initiatives in India by empowering communities, building resilient supply chains, and protecting the environment.
Through its SmartBarley initiative, AB InBev has supported 1,200 Indian barley growers by leveraging data, technology and insights to help them improve their productivity, livelihood and efficient use of natural resources. As part of this drive, AB InBev recently collaborated with scientists and researchers from the Indian Institute of Wheat & Barley Research (IIWBR) and conducted training sessions with an aim of upskilling over 1,000 farmers on best farming practices, post-harvest storage, and pest and disease management techniques. Over 400 farming households were also trained in methods of vermicomposting and kitchen gardens.
Speaking about the company’s efforts, Reena Gautam, Vice President Procurement & Sustainability - South Asia & APAC, said, “Sustainability is not just a part of our business, it is our business. As a global brewer, we are using our scale and capabilities to answer the urgent call to tackle the environmental crisis facing humanity and biodiversity at present. Our 2025 Sustainability Goals are a step towards catalyzing change by connecting farmers to technologies and skills; ensuring quality water and access in high-stress communities; deploying innovations to increase recycling content for a more circular future; and adding renewable electricity capacity to our breweries.”
AB InBev has been collaborating with governments, NGO partners, and innovators to advance the SDGs.
Amidst the pandemic, and the disruption to the supply chain, the brewer is assisting the farmers with best practices when it comes to storing their harvested crops in a safe and hygienic environment. AB InBev has achieved 100 percent of the intended buyback in the defined quality specifications.
Recognizing the need for collaborating to address the most pressing environmental challenges facing us at present, AB InBev works with startups such as Kisan Hub, BanQu, FOSS and Zoom Agri to upskill farmers and the field team.
Commenting on the partnership and the work currently being done, Sachin Shende, CEO – KisanHub, said, “AB InBev's Smart Agriculture Sustainability goal has taken a holistic approach to address the twin challenges faced by farmers on adapting to climate change and keeping farming financially viable by upskilling them and empowering them financially. We collect necessary data from the field and enable Agronomists to provide right advice to farmers on growing quality Barley sustainably. We are proud to be partnering with a committed and highly motivated team of AB InBev to support them on their mission to solve this global challenge.”
Efficient water stewardship
The brewer’s ultimate goal is to improving quality water access in stressed communities. To achieve this, AB InBev aims to create water recharge capacities of over 600,000 KL over the course of this year, across five locations in India. This includes establishing watershed replenishment structures ranging from on-farm ponds to check dams and promoting conservation and management of water and soil for smart, sustainable agriculture. Expanding on its efforts, the company continues to work closely with local and global partners including ICRISAT, FORCE and LetsEndorse to implement innovative solutions and enable communities to increase their water resilience in the face of climate change.
AB InBev is working with Jaldhaara Foundation and WaterHealth India, to install WaterHealth Centers (WHCs) in under-served areas to provide drinking water, positively providing access to over 100,000 citizens in the Bangalore Municipality. Within 1.5 years of establishment, the project intervention has helped provide 72 lakh litres of safe and purified drinking water. The initiative also works towards facilitating overall community development through awareness drives at schools, Anganwadi Centers and with women help groups.
Speaking on the association with AB InBev, Varun Kashyap, Co-Founder, Let’s Endorse said, “Following a proactive approach to water stewardship, our collaboration with AB InBev was conceptualized to offer longer-term solutions to water sufficiency in the semi-arid parts of Neemrana and Aurangabad. Water-sufficiency is known to be the most crucial precursor to improved agricultural yields, augmented incomes and overall prosperity and socio-economic growth of the communities.”
Championing a sustainable future
In line with the company’s global commitment to secure 100 percent of the company’s purchased electricity from renewable sources by 2025, globally AB InBev has replaced more than 50 percent of its power consumption with renewable electricity. In India, the company’s brewery, SPR, in Mysore, has achieved 65 percent renewable electricity adoption, successfully reducing its carbon footprint by over 3.5 million kgs. PALS in Aurangabad is AB InBev’s second facility in India to be powered through solar power. The implementation at PALS is equivalent to planting 27,000 mature trees with the potential to absorb the CO2 generated by driving passenger vehicles for 49 lakh km each year.
AB InBev is also exploring inventive new solutions in its packaging supply-chain to increase recycled content in packaging, support recovery and reuse of bottles, while it continues to advocate for returnable solutions. By 2025, the company aims to ensure 100% of its product is in packaging that is returnable or made from majority recycled content and in this regard AB InBev is focused on four key areas: Reuse, Reduce, Recycle, and Rethink. Today, the glass bottles contain 35 percent recycled content while the cans are made up of approximately 65 percent of recycled material.
Creating positive impact in communities
The company recently joined forces with various State governments to equip those on the frontline including healthcare, civic and law enforcement personnel, with vital supplies. So far it has donated 73,000 liters of hand sanitizer in Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Haryana, Karnataka, Telangana and Maharashtra, 25,000 FFP2 masks in Maharashtra and 3,750 PPE kits certified for healthcare professionals in UP, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Telangana. More than 15L frontline workers across India have been positively impacted through these initiatives.
With sustainability at the core of its business, AB InBev remains dedicated to advancing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, to help communities and environment thrive, for the next 100 years and beyond.