Market insight in association witH
Heineken Ireland to repurpose waste beer into agricultural fertiliser
Amidst a broader trend of corporate responsibility during the coronavirus pandemic, GlobalData highlights how Heineken has supported the repurposing of unused on-premise products.
Brewing giant Heineken is collecting over 100,000 kegs of stale beer, stout and cider, previously left dormant in closed pubs across Ireland during the Covid-19 lockdown, to be repurposed into agricultural fertiliser.
Due to the lockdown that came into force on 27 March, Heineken Ireland has committed to collecting broached and full kegs that have passed, or will soon pass their sell-by date.
Heineken Ireland Commercial Director, Sharon Walsh, said that the brewery was committed to bearing the cost of the unused alcohol. “This is a large investment for our business at a challenging time for us all, but it will be worth it to ensure that everyone’s first pint back at their local is at the peak quality and freshness consumers expect from Heineken.”
Heineken’s initiative will be a welcome relief for Irish pubs that are struggling with a dramatic loss of its consumer base, compounded by the further financial strains of wasted stock and replenishment. The manufacturer intends to recycle the waste alcohol as an agricultural commodity – in the form of fertiliser.
This novel approach of turning waste alcohol into fertiliser has benefits for a number of stakeholders across society. Establishment owners will welcome this as an opportunity to minimise costs as pubs have been hit hard during the lockdown.
Although the pandemic has caused consumers to have less spending power, times of austerity such as the 2008 recession are opportunities for premium brands to reposition themselves as a “treat”.
As an integral part of Irish culture, pubs will entice patrons to step in for a fresh pint and seize the recovery period as a chance to re-establish themselves in the community.
Heineken has a history of innovation and corporate responsibility. In fact, Heineken devoted 36 pages of its last 175-page Annual Report (2019) to its Sustainability Review alone.
With its implementation of the Cool Farm Tool, an analytics tool that aims to calculate CO2 emissions at farm level, improvements can be made to farming practices that refine the “sustainable agriculture approach”. In turn, this will contribute towards the company’s 2020 objective to extract at least half of its main raw materials from sustainable sources.
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Globally, foodservice has taken a hit as consumers are forced to stay indoors due to Covid-19. While some have shifted to increased delivery and collect models, foodservice operators are now up for the next challenge: long-term social distancing. In the meantime, if they gain social media notoriety, as well as curious customers coming through the door, then it is a win-win as this evolving sector looks to innovate to stay afloat.
Many of these unique and creative social distancing measures are first coming out of Asia, as the region has ‘reopened’ ahead of Europe and North America.
In Bangkok, patrons have started eating next to panda toys and cardboard dragons in order to maintain social distancing. Restaurant’s place the creatures in chairs diagonally from each other so that customers do not sit too close to each other. In China, customers are disinfected upon entry and utensils are sanitised at the table for full transparency, and to give patrons peace of mind over any safety concerns.
In the US, makeshift plastic sheets at a bar and mannequins seated at nearby tables may make for a spooky environment, however these measures also ensure that customers follow the rules.
These examples are ways to ‘nudge’ – in a not-so-subtle way – customers to take extra care and keep a distance from their dinner dates. This also limits time speaking closely to the waiting staff or miscommunication that can lead to dangerous contagious situations. Moreover, of course, it can be a playful way to remind people the pandemic is still happening, whilst allowing life to go on semi-normally.
While these examples still stick with the traditional restaurant model, some restaurants in Europe are building an experience around social distancing.
In Amsterdam, Mediamatic ETEM offers a four-course vegetarian menu in personal quarantine greenhouses. Customers are fully protected in glass enclosures looking out at the canal, with wait staff serving food while wearing gloves and facemasks. The restaurant has been a surprising success, with patrons finding the ambience to be a memorable experience.
In Sweden, pop-up restaurant Bord Ford En (‘table for one’) took isolation to the next level. Located in the region of Wermland, the ‘restaurant’ is a single table and chair in the middle of a field. The guest does not interact with the staff and the three-course Swedish meal is delivered in a basket by a rope attached to the kitchen. Launched in May and expected to stay open until August, reservations are full – only one guest per day.
While the Swedish example might have been more about an experience than a real solution to social distancing in the restaurant business, it brings up the new and relevant consumer behaviour as a result of lockdown.
As consumers are cooped up all day, there has been more value placed on self-care, slower lifestyles and looking inward. A restaurant for one could allow people to have a more introspective experience, away from the hustle and bustle of conventional restaurants. It also shows that thanks to the current conditions, consumers are open to new and novel experiences that keep them safe but also allow them to experiment.
Foodservice operators must understand that the ‘new normal’ does not just mean adjusting the status quo, it also means evolving and challenging norms and pushing boundaries of what the foodservice consumer is post-Covid-19.