Anheuser-Busch to Invest $1.5 Billion in U.S. Operations

ST. LOUIS (St. Louis Post-Dispatch/TNS) -

After acquiring several craft breweries, Anheuser-Busch InBev is increasing its investment in its U.S. brewing, agriculture, packaging and distribution operations to more than $1.5 billion by 2018, including $162 million in the St. Louis area, home to its U.S. headquarters.

Of the $1.5 billion it will pump into its facilities between 2015 and 2017, the world’s largest brewer plans to spend $850 million on brewery and packaging expansion, $220 million on product innovation and $720 million on efficiency enhancements at its existing facilities, A-B InBev said Tuesday.

Including four craft breweries it acquired in recent years, A-B operates 16 breweries domestically, 17 distributorships and 23 agricultural and packaging facilities. The Belgium-based brewer’s largest brewery is in St. Louis.

The investment is an increase from recent years. From 2011 to 2014, the maker of Budweiser and Bud Light invested more than $1 billion in its U.S. operations, including adding a new, re-closeable 16-ounce aluminum bottle.

One of its largest domestic projects underway is a $150 million expansion of its Metal Container Corp. facility outside St. Louis that makes Bud Light aluminum bottles. The expansion at the facility that currently makes 1.5 million bottles daily will double production and add 70 jobs.

The aluminum bottle is only made at that site now, but production may expand to other breweries, Pete Kraemer, A-B’s vice president of supply, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

A-B also said Tuesday that it plans to invest $12 million at its St. Louis brewery for improvements to conserve resources and support new innovations. One of the planned changes is a conversion from the use of coal at the brewery to natural gas, said Jim Bicklein, general manager of the St. Louis brewery.

Other sizable projects include a $45 million addition of a can line and warehouse at its Fort Collins, Colo., brewery to produce its slim, 12-ounce can, and $20 million at its Los Angeles brewery for water efficiency and treatment upgrades.

In addition to its 12 breweries, A-B is investing in the craft breweries it has acquired to meet growing demand.

Less than a year after A-B acquired Bend, Ore.-based 10 Barrel Brewing Co., it plans to double production within the next 12 to 18 months, Kraemer said.

“There’s quite a bit of growth in craft beer, so most of it is going to capacity to increase our ability to brew more beer,” Kraemer said.

A-B’s investment plans also include $11 million for product development and production increases for some of its newest products.