Anheuser-Busch investing $18 million in Williamsburg brewery

Photo credit: Anheuser-Busch

NEW YORK (AP/WAVY) — Anheuser-Busch is upgrading its U.S. breweries and plans to build two new distribution centers as it adapts to an increasingly fragmented beer market.

At the brewery in Williamsburg, the company says it is investing $18 million on new technology and equipment, including new labeling machines.

The maker of Budweiser, Bud Light and Stella Artois says the upgrades across the country and new distribution centers in Los Angeles and Columbus, Ohio will allow it to store a greater variety of products and get them to customers faster. The measures are part of the $500 million that the company said Monday it will invest in its U.S. operations this year, marking an increase compared with recent years. It’s a portion of the $3.7 billion in global capital expenditures that the Belgian company had already budgeted for 2017.

Anheuser-Busch has struggled to boost sales volumes as craft beers grow increasingly popular in an already crowded marketplace. In 2016, total volume at Anheuser-Busch declined 2 percent, including a 1.6 percent volume decline in North America.

“These investments celebrate our achievements and empower our employees right here in Virginia,” said Bryan Derr, General Manager of the Anheuser-Busch Williamsburg Brewery. “Our employees are extremely proud to brew great beer in our community.”

The same thing is happening with non-alcoholic drinks. PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi has said the industry is becoming more “niche,” and that PepsiCo needs to learn how to thrive amid that growing complexity.

The investment announced by Anheuser-Busch Monday includes upgrades to breweries in Fort Collins, Colorado and St. Louis, Missouri. The company did not say how many new jobs it expects this year’s U.S. investments to create. It has added around 2,500 jobs since 2013, the company said. Anheuser-Busch employs more than 17,000 people in the U.S.

In 2015, Anheuser-Busch had said it expects to invest $1.5 billion from that year to 2018. The Monday announcement was an update, with the company saying it is spending $2 billion from this year through 2020.

The new capital expenditure program includes:

• $82 million to enhance nationwide supply chain operations and to build new, state-of-the-art distribution facilities in Los Angeles and Columbus.
• $28 million at the Fort Collins brewery to expand production of popular aluminum bottle products and increase diversity of products through installation of dry hop capabilities.
• $18 million at the Williamsburg brewery on new technology and equipment to maintain quality, and to install new labeling machines.
• $15 million to begin innovative cross brewing capabilities at the Fairfield brewery through Elysian partnership, including significant updates to brewery infrastructure.
• $13 million to the St. Louis brewery, including updates to the beechwood-aging tanks and several other initiatives that allow for production capability of new brands, as well as investments to increase sustainability.
• $12 million for the Cartersville brewery to install a new multi-packer to diversify packaging capabilities, as well as new programming and metering devices to increase energy efficiency.
• $11 million to expand aluminum bottling capabilities at the Jacksonville brewery, as well as upgrades to improve energy efficiency.
• $11 million to begin innovative cross brewing capabilities at the Merrimack brewery alongside craft partners.
• $10 million in continued investments at the Los Angeles brewery to add water efficiency and treatment capabilities.
• $10 million to the Baldwinsville brewery to increase production of non-alcoholic product offerings, mainly Teavana, and to install a new multi-packer.
$8 million to the Houston brewery to begin brewing the popular Michelob Ultra Lime Cactus product and to expand aluminum bottle production.
• $7 million to the Columbus brewery to support various improvements, including projects to conserve resources and to develop and integrate new products.


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