The COVID-19 pandemic presents an unprecedented global challenge of protecting lives while also safeguarding livelihoods and communities. Only a whole-of-society, united, and collaborative approach can deliver an effective global response.
As custodians of some of the world’s most iconic and popular beer, wine, and spirits brands, we are determined to play our part in supporting this global effort, while maintaining our commitment to the hundreds of thousands of people worldwide that we employ, and to the many millions of businesses that we support in the value chain across agriculture, production, distribution, retail, and hospitality sectors.
The hospitality sector has been among those most severely impacted by shutdowns around the world, yet it has never been more valued or missed. The sudden closure of cafés, restaurants, and bars brought into sharp focus not just how many livelihoods depend on these venues, but also how vital they are to the social fabric and emotional wellbeing of communities.
Socializing in bars and restaurants has been missed the most, second only to spending time with friends and family*. To many of us, the two are intimately linked. Indeed, the sense of occasion and pleasure of being sociable is so valued that many are prepared to pay more to go out and enjoy food and drink within these settings, clearly showing that communities value their social wellbeing alongside their physical health.
By working together, with all key partners, we can help rebuild a safe and thriving café, bar, and restaurant culture that can flourish despite the uncertain times we currently face. Through a whole-of-society response we can once again create the welcoming environment that has been missed by many.
Although our individual companies are very different, we share many common values. We all take pride in the drinks we produce. We want to ensure our products are only consumed responsibly so that, for those who chose to drink them, it is always a positive and memorable experience.
Harmful drinking is not in our interests; it is bad for consumers and the communities we serve, and ultimately bad for our businesses. Although there have been long-term declines in binge drinking, drink driving, and underage drinking in many parts of the world, there is more that we are determined to do.
As governments allow venues to reopen, we will work alongside retailers and other business partners to support appropriate physical distancing measures. We will also use our marketing, promotion of responsible service, and server training programs to help prevent harmful drinking from threatening the safe and sociable atmosphere that communities want to enjoy. In addition – recognizing the rapid growth in online sales and home delivery of beer, wine, and spirits – we are accelerating the efforts that we announced in January to develop global e-commerce standards and safeguards for online marketing, sales, and delivery, and invite digital platforms and delivery agents to join us in doing this.
As we emerge from this pandemic, we will continue constructive dialogue with national governments, international organizations, experts, and civil society to better understand what we can do to raise standards and protect lives, livelihoods, and communities.
By working together, we can help communities rebuild the thriving and flourishing café, bar, and restaurant culture that is so valued and important to our social wellbeing.