Case | HBS Case Collection | December 2014 (Revised July 2016)

HEINEKEN—Brewing a Better World

by Forest L. Reinhardt, José Alvarez, Tonia Junker and Daniela Beyersdorfer

Abstract

The Dutch company HEINEKEN, one of the leading global brewers known for its brands like Heineken, Amstel, and Desperados and for its award-winning marketing campaigns, seeks to closely integrate its long-term sustainability "Brewing a Better World" approach into its corporate strategy. HEINEKEN had set itself ambitious 2015 and 2020 sustainability targets in six pillar areas around energy/CO2, water, sustainable sourcing, responsible consumption, community/inclusive growth, and health and safety. The case focuses on HEINEKEN's efforts in the sustainable sourcing pillar, with its work on farming standards and supplier code as well as its support for local sourcing programs in the growing African market. HEINEKEN's management finds that marketing its achievements in these sustainability areas poses new challenges though. For example, its current "mass-balance" sourcing, in which sustainable and traditional material got mixed in the supply chain, did not allow for effective communication on a given bottle. But was this reason enough to try to move to "segregated" sourcing, if that was even reasonable?

Keywords: Beer/brewing industry; sustainability; local sourcing; Corporate Strategy; Global Strategy; Brands and Branding; Marketing Strategy; Supply Chain Management; Corporate Social Responsibility and Impact; Food and Beverage Industry;

Citation:

Reinhardt, Forest L., José Alvarez, Tonia Junker, and Daniela Beyersdorfer. "HEINEKEN—Brewing a Better World." Harvard Business School Case 715-022, December 2014. (Revised July 2016.)