Change at the top of AB InBev USA

Head of North American division to be replaced as sales figures plummet.

Brazilian Joao Castro Neves is to leave his position as the head of AB InBev North America. He will be replaced on 1st January 2018 by fellow Brazilian Michel Doukeris in a reminder that, for the brewer of all-American brands like Budweiser, the US is just another territory of a global operation whose power is wielded primarily from Brazil and Belgium.

The move follows a rapid decline in the fortunes of the Budweiser and Bud Light flagship beers. CNBC reports that the decline has been continuous since 2014 and appears to be accelerating, with an unprecedented 6.2% drop in the third quarter of 2017. Drinkers are reportedly turning to a number of alternatives to default lagers, including craft beers, imports, wine and spirits.

Meanwhile, the company has also laid off 90% of the dedicated salesforce of its craft division The High End. This offshoot represents the ten North American breweries that the company has acquired in recent years, such as Goose Island and Devils Backbone. These brands will now utilise the individual breweries’ own staff instead of a centralised team.

It remains to be seen if such changes of direction will bring about a change in AB InBev’s fortunes, at both ends of the North American beer market.