While Tom Brady was chasing his 6th Super Bowl Victory, something big happened during the game. Budweiser aired an ad celebrating the link between business and sustainability – a message that reached at least an average of 100 million viewers.
The 45 second video combined Budweiser’s brand icons, Dalmatians and Clydesdales, with Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind”, to tout the company’s renewable energy commitments, particularly around wind generation.
For someone who tries to follow sports, but remains “passive” as my husband would put it, this ad won my attention for the night. It was a mixing pot of nature, technology and business that shared a singular, important message – companies are proudly investing in our planet’s future.
The truth is, this ad shared only part of the work Anheuser-Busch InBev, Budweiser’s parent company, is doing to make its global operations more sustainable. I know this because I recently chatted with Jess Newman, Director of U.S. Agronomy at Anheuser-Busch – one of many employees working to meet the company’s sustainability goals.
The global brewer’s leadership in renewable energy
By 2025, every bottle of beer AB InBev-owned beer will be made with 100% renewable energy. That covers all of its brands, including Bud Light and Budweiser – the first of the brand’s to get there.
Roughly half of the purchased electricity used in the company’s 12 breweries and other operations in the U.S. comes from renewable energy. It’s enough to brew more than 20 billion, 12 oz. servings of beer each year.
But what the majority of Super Bowl viewers probably don’t know, is that AB InBev is improving its environmental performance in more ways than just renewable energy. The company set 2025 sustainability goals around four pillars: climate, water stewardship, packaging and smart agriculture – the fourth being Jess’ area of work.
Helping suppliers be profitable and sustainable
I first met Jess back in 2015 when she was working in the New York City Mayor’s Office of Sustainability as an EDF Climate Corps fellow.
Now at Anheuser-Busch, Jess leads a team of over a dozen crop scientists who provide agronomic and sustainability guidance to the company’s primary suppliers, farmers.
Her work revolves around improving the sustainability of the brewery’s global supply chain. Think about the main ingredients that go into making a can of beer: barley, hops and rice. Getting these crops from seeds to harvest-ready plants requires land, healthy soil, water, irrigation systems, and so much more.
A lot of focus is on helping farmers reduce the environmental footprint of this process by integrating emerging technologies into their activities, like moisture sensors and precision irrigation and seeding, and advising them on sustainable practices.
But Jess is more than just an agronomic expert to the farmers – she’s a trusted adviser. Someone that can help them be profitable, and do so in a way that’s good for the planet.
This year after watching the Super Bowl, I felt proud (and for once not confused!) for two reasons:
First AB InBev’s ad was proof that companies are taking climate action, and they aren’t doing it behind closed doors – they’re literally putting into their product and broadcasting it to millions.
And second, one of the people driving true change across the brewery’s global operations is a brilliant woman.
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