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Coronavirus: AB InBev helping European health workers

Global brewer AB InBev has unveiled a package of support for frontline European health services in the fight against coronavirus.

Countries including Italy, Europe's worst-hit nation, Spain and France have enforced lockdowns to prevent the spread of Covid-19, which is piling immense pressure on healthcare providers. 

In a bid to help, Belgium-based brewer AB InBev is producing 50,000 litres of ready-to-use disinfectant alcohol for European hospitals, using the surplus alcohol from its alcohol-free beers including Juliper 0.0 and Beck's Blue.

This initial run, produced in partnership with KWST and Jodima, will be delivered across the continent and AB InBev has committed to producing and donating more disinfectant alcohol as needed.

It has also produced 26,000 250ml bottles of hand sanitiser which will be given out to pharmacies and frontline workers across Europe.

Jason Warner, president of AB InBev in Europe, said: "Unlike many other products you buy, beer is local - we grow our barley here in Europe and brew it close to source in our breweries, which means we are deeply rooted in our local communities and will do everything we can to help them in these times. 

"Turning our efforts from brewing with barley and hops to producing disinfectant and hand sanitisers was a different challenge, but one that we rose to given the current situation.

"In this unprecedented time we want to turn our attention to supporting public health efforts and ensuring those around us can stay safe and healthy."

AB InBev's Beck's brewery in Bremen, Germany also completed a first production run of 1,000 disinfectant liquids on Monday, repackaged in flint Beck's beer bottles and distributed to local businesses and services.

It is also offering billboards to advertise public health awareness messages in Belgium and the Netherlands and has pledged to hand out more than one million bottles of its alcohol-free beer in the coming weeks to frontline workers in Europe battling Covid-19. 

In addition to its public health support efforts, AB InBev is also pledging financial support to European hospitality sector. The brewer has been offering deferred rent payments, free tap cleaning services and keg restocks to hospitality industry customers.

It has also launched "pre-paid pint" scheme in various countries. These see people purchase vouchers through online platforms to "pre-pay" for a beer in their favourite bar, which can be redeemed once the venue reopens. So far almost 500,000 beers have been "pre-paid", with AB InBev matching donations.

The schemes include Café Courage in Belgium, through which some 75,000 beers have been bought; Save Pub Life, launched by Budweiser Brewing Group UK&I in the UK; the Salva il tuo Bar scheme in Italy; and Bar Solidaire in France.

The brewer says it has so far raisd around €6 million for restaurants, pubs and bars across Europe through donations, business support and "pre-paid pints".

23 March 2020 - Bethany Whymark