Bavaria S.A.'s partnership with SABMiller in 2005 was a sound strategic move for the two beer companies from both business and sustainability perspectives. The resultant company, Bavaria SABMiller, was then able to partner with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to improve its water use and management. In late 2016, Anheuser-Busch InBev acquired SABMiller. Bavaria— headquartered in Bogotá, Colombia— has developed a consolidated sustainability strategy around five “world” visions that represent the company's commitment to the environment: Thriving World, Sociable World, Resilient World, Clean World, and Productive World. This case study focuses on the Resilient World program, outlining the relationship between Bavaria and water— the fundamental resource for beer production and, hence, for the life of the company. The chapter lays out how Bavaria uses realtime monitoring information to regulate its water use. It also analyzes how the company has relied on strategic partnerships, leadership, and organizational culture to go beyond compliance and deploy ambitious sustainability initiatives. It then describes the key challenges Bavaria has faced in implementing this strategy, recognizing that continuous learning will improve sustainability.
The foundation of the largest beer company in Colombia dates back to 1889, when two pairs of brothers— Leo and Emil Kopp from Germany, and Santiago and Carlos Arturo Castello from Colombia— joined forces to purchase land for the construction of a brewery. Although the partnership didn't last long, the Kopp brothers continued their mission and, in 1890, started Bavaria Kopp's Deutsche Bierbrauerei and built San Diego, the first operational beer plant in Bogotá. Over the next two decades, Bavaria established itself as a leader in Colombia's beer industry and became a recognizable name on the international market. Among the company's early accomplishments were the opening of a second brewery in the city of Barranquilla, the launching of its Aguila brand in 1913, the establishment of various strategic alliances (e.g., with Continental Brewery of Medellin), the construction of new plants in Duitama and Bogotá, and the acquisition of the Cucuta and Panama breweries.
By the mid-twentieth century, Bavaria was the second-largest brewery in South America. This steady rise to prominence culminated in 2005, when the London-based multinational brewing company SABMiller acquired Bavaria for US$7.8 billion. At the time, it was one of the most significant mergers in the international beer industry.