Member Spotlight: Abelardo MoctezumaSeptember 30, 2021 | BIER
Company: Anheuser-Busch InBev
Connect with Abelardo on LinkedIn
Welcome to our series aimed at spotlighting the individual leaders within BIER member companies and stakeholder organizations. Learn how these practitioners and their companies are addressing pressing challenges around water, energy, agriculture, climate change, and what inspires each of them to advance environmental sustainability in the beverage sector and collectively, overall.
Briefly describe your role and responsibilities and how long you have worked with your company.
I’ve been with Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev) for 11 years now. I started working for the company in Mexico, where I’m originally from, back in 2010, where I joined within the supply chain organization. After 3 years I moved into the Procurement & Sustainability organization, of which I’ve been a part of ever since. Over the last 11 years, I’ve worked in Mexico, Belgium, and Switzerland. This has been a good experience for me as I was able to interact and see the scale and diversity of our company in action. My current role is the global director for sales sourcing and commercial agreements. On the sales sourcing side, I’m responsible for everything related to the procurement and sustainability of our commercial refrigeration, which includes branded fridges that we place in our points of sale. I’m also responsible for commercial agreements, leading projects aimed to upscale the capabilities of our sales teams.
How has the company’s sustainability program evolved over the years, and what are your specific priorities for 2021?
When I joined the company, we were all aware that sustainability is something that we needed to address as individuals and as a company. But there wasn’t a clear way of tracking and measuring our progress, we worked to change this and in2018 we published our science-based targets and our 2025 sustainability goals around agriculture, climate action, circular packaging, and water stewardship. These goals were adopted within the company globally as strategic priorities that we wanted to measure and take bold action towards meaningful change. Even our vision that we call “Our Purpose” states “Bringing people together for a better world”. This shift was important because we moved from sustainability awareness to accountability.
After that, we launched the 100+ Accelerator program, which partners with startups to capture innovative ideas to accelerate inclusive sustainable growth through innovations that would make our purpose even more meaningful. Around this same time we kicked our sustainable brand work into high gear, from Stella partnering with Water.org to Budweiser making its pledge to brew all beers from 100% renewable electricity, our consumers were witnessing sustainability as a differentiator of our products. We at AB InBev also know to use the voice of our portfolio of great brands, and not only the scale of the company, as powerful communicators and stewards of those big messages, and how we can bring our consumers on the same journey. This made me feel even more proud of being part of the organization.
Specifically, in the commercial refrigeration space, we have a big challenge because 20% of the total CO2 emissions of the company come from this space. It doesn’t seem like it would be that big. However, if we think about it, we all like to consume cold beers. And whenever we go to a restaurant, a bar, or even in the retail space, we will choose the coldest available, or at least me as a Mexican, I definitely enjoy that really, really chilled beer. Given this, to get consumers the cold beer they want, we need to spend a lot of energy. We are the world’s largest brewer with a large footprint serving thousands and thousands of points of sale. So in line with our sustainability goals, what we want to do is reduce our CO2 emissions by 25% from a 2017 baseline by 2025. And of course, now as 2025 is approaching, we’re already thinking on how to go beyond and chase the next big ambition. So, the main challenge that we have is we’ve made good progress already in this space, but we believe that we’ve gathered a lot of the low-hanging fruit and we are now at a point where there are some additional solutions out there, but it may not be financially feasible for us to implement them at the moment. But even thinking further than that, there’s not a lot of options in the future; we need to be innovative.
Regarding innovation and seeking new alternatives previously unavailable to us is the success of the 100+ Accelerator Program. In the 2021 startup cohort of the program, we had several applications regarding refrigeration, and there’s one that has been accepted to be funded and developed. It is innovative in that it embraces disruptive technologies and it adjusts our current traditional vapor compression cycle, while also offering a new engaging cooling experience to our consumers. The solution is called V-Chiller, and it uses vacuum technology to provide a cold beer, with 20x faster cooling times, but also with the expectation of a 50%+ energy reduction with a refrigerant that has a global warming potential of zero. Think of it as a reverse microwave that will cool your beer from ambient temperature to refreshing sub-zero in less than one minute! No doubt, we are excited about this! Our next steps include piloting the technology to confirm and review the scalability and the feasibility of this. Yet, this solution is evidence that programs like our 100+ Accelerator are discovering and elevating big ideas. It’s very exciting!
And even more exciting is that we are joining forces with The Coca-Cola Company on this one, acknowledging that Sustainability is all of our business and that together we’ll achieve even more powerful and meaningful results. This comes as a result of the recent announcement of them becoming partners of our 100+ Accelerator program, along with Unilever and Colgate-Palmolive.
How do you feel being a BIER member will help you successfully address the key areas you are addressing in 2021?
This is the first time that I have had the opportunity to have this type of cross-industry discussion. The BIER platform, as an entity, is great because the members are already connected. Meaning we didn’t have to make individual introductions, engagements, and conversations. It’s difficult to call up a colleague at say a competitor company like Heineken and inquire about how to work on a collective problem. That person would need to talk to their boss, there would be questions as to why talk to a competitor, and so forth. The fact that BIER is already well established around common challenges in the beverage sector allows us to go straight to the discussion, which is super powerful.
Specific to the actual content of what we’re discussing, I find it equally as powerful to realize that we’re all facing the same challenges when it comes to fridges sustainability. It is reassuring in that sense to see that we’re not alone. We’re not alone solely in what we are challenged by, but also we are not alone in that we’re all looking for those solutions that will take us to that next level. That realization provides for open and transparent conversations around solutions and hashing out what we believe will make that meaningful change.
In our discussions, we have bounced around a lot of really valuable ideas regarding energy efficiency, circular economy, and GHG emissions calculation for commercial fridges. Personally, I like how the discussions expand my thought processes. My bias of what I thought originally I was going to get out of these conversations and what has actually turned out to be and how we are shaping it together, is completely different.
As an example, the GHG emissions calculation workstream derives from a challenging area in the beverage sector of not having a standard way of calculating our greenhouse gas emissions between the industry for refrigeration specifically. As BIER members, we are working to have a unified standard, which is a good starting point building off of the guidance BIER has long maintained in the Beverage Industry Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions Sector Guidance. We are presently updating that and this is something that we, as an industry, will benefit a lot from as we start evolving into discussions and the solutions towards sustainable initiatives.
If you had one superpower that could be used to radically accelerate and scale sustainable best practices, which one would it be, and how would you use it?
I’m very passionate about the value of diversity and inclusion for the business. I think bias-breaking would be kind of like a superpower. Meaning, if I could just break the bias from people in terms of what they think the way of sustainability needs to be and specifically to how it relates to what we’re seeing in the refrigeration space. Currently, we’re looking at our fridge and we’re thinking, how do we make this same box better? Rather than no – maybe there is a completely different way of doing it! So in terms of breaking the bias of how we think sustainability needs to look but also breaking the bias and which ideas we’re taking into account. I strongly believe that diverse ideas bring big and bold changes and often diverse ideas are the most impactful ones. I also think there are a lot of ideas out there that maybe haven’t been heard because we have a bias towards only viewing things in terms of today’s definition of sustainability and available solutions. But if we’re able to be more receptive to outside-of-the-box thinking, maybe we’ll get to a bigger, bolder solution faster.
BIER Publications referenced in this interview:
Beverage Industry Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions Sector Guidance
The Beverage Industry Environmental Roundtable (BIER) is a technical coalition of leading global beverage companies working together to advance environmental sustainability within the beverage sector.
By BIER [crp]