Leffe is owned by InBev Belgium, the European operating arm of the global Anheuser–Busch InBev brewery giant. Marketed as an abbey ale, Leffe Beer has not been brewed at the Abbey of Leffe since the abbey was destroyed during the French Revolution. Instead, Leffe Beer is mass-produced at the Stella Artois Brewery industrial complex, and brewed all over the world.
One of the places that Leffe is is currently being brewed is Russia, as part of a joint venture between AB InBev and Turkish beer producer Anadolu Efes. But outrage is growing as the beer is still being produced at Russian breweries several months after President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
On April 22, Anheuser-Busch InBev announced plans to exit the country and that it was “in active discussions with its business partner, about selling its joint venture stake,” an exit that would have cost the world’s largest brewer an estimated $1.1 billion “non-cash impairment charge” in the first quarter.
But according to Politico, AB InBev’s plans to cut ties with Turkish beer producer Anadolu Efes have yet to happen, and now Leffe is facing world-wide calls for a boycott…
“The decision by the joint venture has left its parent company AB InBev scrambling to clean up a growing PR disaster. The brewing giant, which holds a 24 percent stake in Anadolu Efes, formed the AB InBev Efes 50-50 joint venture with the Turkish company in 2018. But Anadolu Efes is operationally in control of the day-to-day management.”
“Asked whether the company opposed the decision to brew Leffe in Russia, a spokesperson for AB InBev said the brewer was actively seeking to sell its shares in the venture to its Turkish partner, and to suspend its license to sell certain brands.”
The Leffe backlash is happening in spite of Anheuser-Busch’s anti-war efforts to date, which include providing critical assistance to its 1,800 employees and their families in Ukraine, the donation of two million cans of emergency drinking water, and partnerships with other companies and non-profits providing food, blankets, and medical supplies to Ukraine and surrounding refugee relief areas.
On April 25 Anheuser-Busch announced that it was joining AB InBev teams around the world and launching a new beer aimed at providing humanitarian relief for those impacted by the crisis in Ukraine.
Taking inspiration from beloved Ukrainian beer, the brewer introduced Chernigivske beer in select cities across the US, with its profits going to the Care Ukraine Crisis Fund.
Chernigivske, which is part of AB InBev’s global portfolio of brands, is named after the city Chernihiv and has been brewed in Ukraine since 1988.