AB InBev has 'reignited' old supply chains in response to disruptions ©  Drew Angerer/Getty Images
AB InBev has 'reignited' old supply chains in response to disruptions © Drew Angerer/Getty Images

AB InBev's new logistics boss says 'never waste a crisis'

24 November 2021

The new European vice president of logistics at the world’s largest beermaker AB InBev has said the company is exploring new supply chains and freight methods following “inevitable” supply disruptions.

Ingrid de Ryck, who was appointed vice president logistics Europe at AB InBev in September, said the brewer had had to “reignite” old supply chains and develop new ones to tackle global supply chain issues

She told Supply Management: “We’ve needed to develop new supply chains in some instances or even reignite older ones. This has seen us import from a wider range of countries with intercontinental and global shipping lanes for some components that were previously just in Europe and Asia.” 

In her new role de Ryck will be responsible for improving sustainability and optimising the company’s logistics footprint across its supply chains.

Ingrid de Ryck was appointed vice president logistics Europe at AB InBev in September,

She previously worked as VP of procurement and sustainability for North America at the brewer, where she helped meet renewable electricity targets four years ahead of schedule. She has been with the company for 20 years.

As well as the challenges faced by other companies, beer supply chains were put under extra stress when shortages of CO2 – used to carbonate beer – resulted in soaring prices for the gas.

De Ryck said the company, whose brands include Becks, Budweiser and Corona, looked to overcome shipping delays by switching to air freight. “Exploring other shipping methods has been essential,” she said. 

She continued: “We’ve pivoted to air freight where necessary to overcome ocean freight disruption and used rail as well at times to address the truck driver shortage.

“We recognise that it is imperative for our supply chains to remain agile and flexible so that we’re well-placed to respond quickly in the face of unexpected supply chain disruption. At AB InBev, we prepare for this through extensive scenario planning, which has been instrumental over the past two years.”

She said shortages of aluminium, barley and CO2 meant the company increased prices in some markets, but it has worked to offset cost rises through efficiency savings. 

AB InBev – which is aiming to reduce CO2 emissions by 25% across its supply chain by 2025 – powers several of its breweries with solar energy, and de Ryck said the company was building its first large-scale hydrogen power system at a brewery in the UK. 

The new plant is set to save approximately 15,500 tonnes of carbon emissions annually from 2027 onwards – the equivalent of removing 3,300 cars from UK roads.

While the world’s supply chain crisis has resulted in delays and shortages, de Ryck said it presented an “opportunity” to reform supply chains. 

She said: “Disruption has been inevitable but we’ve learned to pivot quickly to operate in this new world, including finding ways to manoeuvre around extended lead times for goods from overseas. 

“I think I speak for many of my fellow logistics workers when I say we’re in a uniquely challenging supply chain environment currently.

“But, as challenging and frustrating as it can be at times, it really is a great opportunity to truly reassess how we design, operate and measure our supply chains. Never waste a crisis.”

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