Protest drains Belgian pubs of leading lagers

20th January 2010, Comments 0 comments

Protest action by workers at brewing giant Anheuser-Busch InBev has hit supplies of popular beers like Jupiler and Stella Artois in Belgium's pubs, cafes and supermarkets, officials have announced.

BRUSSELS - "Primary materials are not getting in, and the finised product is not getting out," a spokesman for the Belgian-Brazilian-US concern said, following protests ranging from a week to 12 days in four production centres.

The result, he said, is that outlets for major brands like Stella Artois, Jupiler, Leffe and Hoegaarden "have run out of stocks."

"Wholesalers are no longer able to supply supermarkets" and "deliveries are no longer getting to cafes throughout the country," he said.

Big supermarket chains Delhaize and Carrefour said that they expect to run out of some of the brands by Wednesday or Thursday.

The protest action, which includes blockades, came after the group announced on January 7 that it planned to cut 10 percent of its workforce in western Europe, or around 800 jobs.

In Belgium, 263 of the 2,700 jobs at AB InBev will go.

Trade unions and employers met Tuesday to try to resolve the standoff, after efforts to find a compromise broke down on January 19.

AB InBev produces around 60 percent of the volume of beer consumed in Belgium's bars and cafes, according to the national hoteliers and restaurants federation.

But its vice-president Jean-Marie De Wandeleer said there is no need for panic among the drinking public.

"Belgium has not run dry and it's not likely to. There are 124 breweries in the country, which are making 800 kinds of beer," he said.


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