While one Western company after another leaves Russia, AB InBev‘s Turkish joint venture partner has decided to brew Leffe in seven Russian breweries. This leads to incomprehension and criticism with consumers.
The decision to launch the Leffe abbey beer on a large scale in Russia was taken by AB InBev Efes, the 50/50 joint venture between AB InBev and its Turkish counterpart Anadolu Efes, that is active in Russia and Ukraine. Since the outbreak of war in Ukraine, AB InBev has been seeking to divest its interest in the joint venture, and also to suspend the licenses to brands such as Stella Artois, Hoegaarden and Budweiser.
But that is not so easy: both business partners have not reached an agreement yet. Meanwhile, AB InBev says it cannot prevent the Russian launch of Leffe by Anadolu Efes, because it has no controlling stake in the joint venture. This is saddling the brewer with considerable image damage.
The fact that AB InBev is very annoyed with the case is demonstrated by the fact that the brewer is waiving the financial benefits of the joint venture. According to a marketing expert, the whole affair need not be a big problem for the company in the longer term: “I understand that people are angry, but I don’t think that the average Belgian will drink one Leffe less because of it”, newspaper Het Nieuwsblad reports.