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World Beer & Beverage Forum joins pantheon of industry conventions, as top world brewing executives meet in Munich.

The well-rounded American brewing industry executive seems to have numberless conventions to attend each year - NBWA, BAA, Craft Brewers, ASBC or MBAA. For internationally-minded execs, it's now time to add one more - The World Beer & Beverage Forum, held in Munich the week before last, Sept. 16-18.

The event drew 670 international brewing executives, including a substantial contingent of Americans.

The speaker's docket included a world-class line-up of speakers, but the centerpiece of the event was the meeting of five market leading brewing executives from five continents. This select group included August Busch III, chairman of Anheuser-Busch; Ted Kunkel, CEO of Foster's Brewing Group; Graham Mackay, CEO of South African Breweries; Keisaku Manabe, chairman of Kirin and Karel Vuursteen of Heineken. Under guidance of moderator Josef Hattig of Beck's, these five executives met under the rubric of the convention motto (unfortunate to gender-correct American ears) "Power Brands made by Power Men."

But "power men" these were, and they held forth for four hours, in an open-ended format that allowed each to describe his company's business, followed by questions from the international audience.

August Busch III delivered a punchy address that focused on changing worldwide market trends. He pointed to three worldwide drivers: cultural changes, lifestyle changes and changes in the competitive structure. He said that the globalization of American culture and the popularity of lighter beers should give A-B a leg up in his stated goal of "building Budweiser into a global brand." Busch noted that market share is increasingly concentrated in a small number of brewers, and said "we have a tiny 9O%" of the world market.

On the subject of the U.S. domestic market, Busch noted "The microbrewing industry has done very well...they have significant market share, and significant margin share, which is more important. [But] in the last 6-8 months the trends have started to decline...microbrewers will be in the market for years to come, but not in the numbers we see today."

On A-B's 60% U.S. market share goal, he said" At upper projections we want 60%, but not at the expense of reducing the margin pool in the United States. Market share drives margin, and at a certain point margin is more important that market share. We will not give up market share, even if it drains that margin pool, but we will not seek market share at the expense of the margin pool."

Mr. Busch impressed the audience with his directness and drive, causing one German exec with a firm grasp of American colloquial English to murmur to his neighbor "He's an aggressive son-of-a-bitch, yes?"

Editor's Note: We'll have full WB&B Forum coverage in upcoming issues.
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Publication:Modern Brewery Age
Date:Sep 29, 1997
Words:446
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