Archive for January 13th, 2010

Flying the flag?

Looking into the options for a Easter family break in the Low Countries, I find that one possibility of a discount train ticket Brussels – Bruges is to travel for patriotic reasons. Yes, it’s in the English version of the  pull down menu of the booking site of the Belgian railways.

I could understand this category on the Russian state railways. But in Belgium? Must be for beer festivals or something.

Read Full Post »

The wonderfully named AB InBev has announced a 10 per cent reduction in the 8,000-strong workforce in Belgium, Germany, the UK, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, according to BeverageDaily.

Unsurprisingly, this has led to protests. 

In Belgium, news of the job cuts prompted union representatives at the Jupiler brewery to hold 10 managers hostage. After 11 hours the workers eventually let the managers go.

At both the Jupiler and Leven breweries in Belgium the gates have been blocked since Thursday, preventing lorries from entering or leaving.

Along with a general overall decline there has been a shift in drinking habits with more premium and specialty beers gaining popularity. AB InBev said its restructuring plans are designed to make the company more consumer focused, and better able to respond to new opportunities in the beer market.

I seriously doubt that it’s possible to make a company of this size consumer orientated.  Or maybe, if it means chasing the latest fads in the market, including packaging, added flavour or health claims.

But real innovation in the brewery sector is not happening among giants struggling for world market shares. It takes place in small and mediums size breweries where the head brewer and his team are considered more crucial than the men in the marketing and accounts departments. And where there is a real possibility of direct communication between the consumer and the brewery.

Read Full Post »