Calls for a beer boycott as the war in Ukraine spills over into the Belgian beer sector

Leffe is owned by InBev Belgium, the European operating arm of global brewing giant Anheuser-Busch InBev. Marketed as an abbey beer, Leffe beer has not been brewed at the Abbaye de Leffe since the destruction of the abbey during the French Revolution. Instead, Leffe beer is mass-produced in the Stella Artois brewery industrial complex and is brewed around the world.

One of the places where Leffe is currently brewed is Russia, as part of a joint venture between AB InBev and Turkish beer producer Anadolu Efes. But outrage is growing over the beer that is still being produced in Russian breweries months after President Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine.

On April 22, Anheuser-Busch InBev announced its intention to leave the country and that it was “in active discussions with its business partner on the sale of its stake in the joint venture”, an exit which would have cost the largest brewer worldwide about $1.1 billion “non-cash impairment charge” in the first quarter.

calls for beer boycott as war in Ukraine spills over to Belgian beer sectorBut according to PolicyAB InBev’s plans to cut ties with Turkish beer producer Anadolu Efes have yet to materialize, and now Leffe faces global calls for a boycott…

The joint venture decision has left its parent company AB InBev scrambling to clean up a growing public relations disaster. The beer giant, which owns a 24% stake in Anadolu Efes, has formed the 50- 50 with the Turkish company in 2018. But Anadolu Efes operationally controls the daily management.

“When asked if the company opposes the decision to brew Leffe in Russia, an AB InBev spokesperson said the brewer was actively seeking to sell its stake in the business to its partner. Turkish and to suspend its license to sell certain brands.

Leffe’s response comes despite Anheuser-Busch’s anti-war efforts to date, which include providing essential aid to its 1,800 employees and their families in Ukraine, donating two million cans of drinking water and partnerships with other businesses and non-profit organizations providing food, blankets and medical supplies to Ukraine and surrounding refugee aid areas.

On April 25, Anheuser-Busch announced that it was joining AB InBev teams around the world and launching a new beer aimed at providing humanitarian relief to people affected by the crisis in Ukraine.

Taking inspiration from the beloved Ukrainian beer, the brewer paid tribute to Chernigivske in select cities across the United States, with proceeds going to the Care Ukraine Crisis Fund.

Chernigivske, part of AB InBev’s global brand portfolio, is named after the city of Chernihiv and has been brewed in Ukraine since 1988.