September is always a big month for us.
As well as Global Be(er) Responsible Day, which we mark alongside fellow brewers, wholesalers, retailers, NGOs, government officials and other partners, to promote smart drinking in communities around the world, Oktoberfest celebrations across Germany and the UK begin in earnest.
This year's Global Be(er) Responsible Day is particularly important to us, as we are the first brewer to partner with alcohol reduction charity Drinkaware, on a new local campaign in Preston, an area close to home for us as we have a brewery in Samlesbury.
The pilot, entitled Have a Little Less, Feel a Lot Better, is aimed at helping men aged 45-64 to think about their at-home drinking and highlight how cutting down could improve their health.
While many may not associate Oktoberfest with the idea of 'having a little less', we are excited to offer those celebrating the festival this year, no-alcohol and low-alcohol options, including our market-leading alcohol-free beer Beck's Blue.
As a beer with a strong German heritage, which adheres to the strict Reinheitsgebot (German purity law), it will be the perfect accompaniment for those looking to enjoy the great taste of a beer during Oktoberfest – just without the alcohol.
It might seem counterintuitive for a brewer to tell people to drink less alcohol, but at AB InBev, our future success as a business is built around encouraging smart drinking and ensuring our products are enjoyed as part of a balanced lifestyle.
And this isn't just lip service. By 2025, as part of our Global Smart Drinking Goals, which aim to measurably decrease the harmful use of alcohol, we want to ensure that no-or lower-alcohol beer products represent at least 20 per cent of our global beer volume.
We have also put clear guidance labels on every single one of our products to increase alcohol health literacy, and will be investing one billion USD in social marketing campaigns and related programs.
We are already making progress against these goals and I hope that we will meet or exceed them by 2025, as we did with our previous goals set out in 2014.
These goals are a hugely important focus for us as a business. As the world's leading brewer, we have a responsibility to maintain the wellbeing of our customers and promote the many benefits of responsible drinking.
Yet, we know that making the right choices involves having choices in the first place. That's why we have invested heavily in our no-alcohol and low-alcohol beers. Too often, not drinking alcohol on a night out with friends, or a special occasion like Oktoberfest, means switching to water or sugary, fizzy drinks, so we are proud to offer natural, refreshing alternatives with no compromise on taste. For example, Beck's Blue is brewed using four natural ingredients, has no fat and comes in at 16 calories per 100ml.
We are also dedicated to working closely with our on-trade partners to make sure consumers are given as much choice as possible when they are out, to make smart decisions. With great choice comes greater responsibility, after all and we have exciting plans across the next year to boost this category. Watch this space.
So happy Global Be(er) Responsible Day and Oktoberfest 2016, I'll certainly be raising a toast – with a bottle of Beck's Blue, naturally – here's to creating a smarter drinking culture around the world.