AB InBev buys Energy drinks firm Hiball

Anheuser-Busch InBev on Thursday announced the acquisition of Hiball Inc – an energy drinks company based in San Francisco, California. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Hiball was founded in 2005 and makes a line of energy drinks with ingredients such as guarana and ginseng, as well as Alta Palla, a line of sparkling juices.

AB InBev said it plans to deliver Hiball products to new markets, while preserving their culture and brand identities.

The transaction marks a departure for the world’s largest brewer into the non-alcoholic beverage segment as U.S. consumers shift away from its beers such as Budweiser, and more towards craft beers, Mexican imported brews, and wines and spirits.

The trend towards health and wellness beverages was started by the big soft drinks companies such as Coca-Cola and Pepsi cola whose carbonated soft drinks has been experiencing sluggish sales due to the health effects of high sugar on the body. So they started expanding into fast-growing categories such as sparkling water and health and wellness beverages.

João Castro Neves, chief executive officer, AB InBev’s U.S. subsidiary, Anheuser-Busch said, the company and its U.S. wholesale network were looking for new opportunities in non-alcoholic beverages.

“We’re looking for high growth high margins,” he said. Energy drinks and sparkling water fit the bill,” he added. Highball was a “natural place to go.”

AB InBev’s global non-alcoholic drinks category represents just 13% of the brewer’s global volume. The company sells a range of energy drinks and soft drinks in Latin America but has negligible presence in that category in the U.S.

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