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20 Fun Facts You Didn't Know About Heineken


Heineken is a Dutch brewing brand that produces one of the most famous lagers in the world. Their famous Heineken lagers are known worldwide and drunk by people in every corner of the globe. Although most people are aware of the brand as it is now globally recognized, people often know very little about the company, in terms of its history, its production, and its global operations. However, this company has a long and interesting history and there are many facts about this brand that you might be surprised to learn and are intriguing to read. Here are 20 fun facts about the company Heineken that you probably did not know.

It Was Founded in 1864

Heineken Hs one of the longest histories of any brewers in the world. In fact, it was first founded in 1864. This Dutch brewing company was founded by Gerard Adriaan Heineken and he opened his first brewery in Amsterdam. He was just 22 years of age when he bought a brewery called De Holberg. He was able to do so with the financial assistance of his wealthy mother. It wasn’t until 1873 that he changed the name to Heineken’s Bierbrouwerj Maatschappij. The following year, he opened his second brewery in Rotterdam. A French chemist called Louis Pasteur developed a specific type of yeast in 1886 and this is still a key ingredient in Heineken lager to this day.

Henry Pierre Heineken Developed Production Methods

The second person to lead the company was Henry Pierre Heineken and the major change that he made to the company was the development of the products. Henry Pierre Heineken was the son of Gerard Adriaan Heineken and he managed the company from 1917 to 1940. Even after he was no longer manager, he remained involved with the company until 1951. His main focus as the leader of the company was to develop brewing techniques that would allow them to maintain the quality of the beer, even when they began large-scale production. It was also during his reign that the company began to concentrate more on exporting their product. Just three days after the Prohibition era ended, Heineken made their first shipment to the United States.

Alfred Heineken Expanded the Company Globally

Following Henry Pierre Heineken, the company was next led by his son Alfred Heineken. He too made some significant changes to the company that led to its growth. One of the main developments he made was to expand the company globally. He had first begun working for Heineken in 1940 and by 1971, he was Chairman of the Executive Board. This was a position he held until 1989, although he continued his involvement in the company until he died in 2002. Alfred Heineken was a strong force within the company and he wanted to increase the stock price of Heineken. He did this by buying out or closing down many other breweries after World War II. The company merged with Amstel, their biggest competitor, in 1968. Alfred Henry Heineken was also responsible for moving production away from their original brewery into a new brewery in Zoeterwoude in the Netherlands in 1975. When the Amstel brewery was closed in 1980, production of their beers also moved to the brewery in Zoeterwoude.

They Acquired Scottish and Newcastle Brewery in 2007

One reason why Heineken has expanded to such a degree is that they have made several acquisitions since they were first founded. One of their most major changes of these was Scottish and Brewer, a company that they acquired in 2007. Scottish and Newcastle was founded in 1749 and was based in Edinburgh, Scotland. It was founded by Grizel Syne who was running her deceased husband’s brewery. The company then got passed down to her sons. Following the acquisition of Scottish and Newcastle, Heineken became the third-largest brewer in the world in terms of revenue behind AB InBev, a Belgian Brazilian company, and a British South African company called SABMiller.

They Acquired Part of FEMSA in 2010

The purchase of Scottish and Newcastle is not their only major acquisition. In 2010, they acquired the brewery division of FEMSA, a Mexican giant officially called Fomento Economico Mexicano, S.A.B de C.V. It is a relatively new company in the history of beer brewing as it was only founded in 1974. Heineken also merged with the other areas of the company so that Heineken could expand its reach to the Latin-American market. Heineken sells their products in this part of the world via FEMSA as this company is the largest brewer and bottler in Latin-America. FEMSA Their involvement with FEMSA will keep Heineken in a strong position in Latin-America as it will allow them to grow their market share in this part of the world.

Heineken Is the Second Largest Brewer in the World

As it is one of the longest standing breweries in the world, it is hardly surprising that they have succeeded in becoming one of the most successful brands in the world and have millions of loyal customers. This means that Heineken is now the second largest brewer in the world. Their strength grew after their acquisition of Scottish and Newcastle. However, they were still behind two other companies in terms of revenue; ABinBev and SABMiller. In 2016, these two companies created a merger, so became just one company. This led to Heineken becoming the second largest brewer in the world. To give some idea of the scale of this company, the Heineken brand produced 2.74 liters of their lager worldwide in 2011. In the same year, they produced 16.46 billion liters of all the drinks they manufacture globally. The company also employs more than 73,000 people worldwide. Heineken is constantly facing new competition in this ever-expanding market, but their history, experience in the field, and their loyal customers mean that this brand remains strong and it would be difficult for any new company to exceed Heineken's level of success.

They Bought Kirin Company in 2017

Heineken are continuing to expand their business by acquiring other major brewing companies. One of the most recent is Kirin Company. This is a Ja[anise company with 12 breweries in Brazil. They first announced that they were in negotiations in January 2017. Just one month later, Heineken announced that they have acquired this company and its 12 breweries in Brazil for a staggering $700 million. The fact that Kirin Company is a Japanese business means that acquiring the Brazilian breweries will give Heineken the chance to strengthen their market position in both South America and Asia. This was not their only news in 2017. In 2015, Heineken had acquired a 50% stake in the Californian- based Lagunitas Brewing Company. In My 2017, they announced that they were purchasing the remaining 50% stake. This made Heineken the sole owners of Lagunitas Brewing Company.

Heineken is Divided into Five Territories

As a company, Heineken is divided into five territories. These are Central and Eastern Europe, Western Europe, Africa and the Middle East, The Americas, and Asia Pacific. These territories are then, in turn, divided into regional operations. Within these territories, there are 115 brewing plants across 65 countries. In addition to brewing Heineken brand lager, they also brew a range of local brands that will appeal to their local market according to region. The territories are each led by a member of the executive team for Heineken under the leadership of Jean Francois van Boxmeer who is Chairman of the Executive Board. Marc Busain is President Americas, Frans Eusman is President Asia Pacific, Stefan Orlowski is President Europe, and Roland Pirmez is President Africa, Middle East, and Eastern Europe. Each of these different territories has different aims in terms of attracting their target market and appealing to the specific geographical demographics but retains the general aims and ethos of the Heineken brand as a whole.

Heineken Has Operating Companies in Asia Pacific, the Middle East, and Africa

Although this company originates in Europe, they are now a global brand with operating companies across the world. While Heineken is especially popular in Europe and America, it is also a well-known brand in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East and the brand has operating companies in each of these parts of the world. In terms of their operating companies in Africa and the Middle East, they have two breweries each in both Algeria and Nigeria. Other countries in which they have operating companies include Morocco, Egypt, Jordan, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Burundi, Reunion, Lebanon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Tunisia, South Africa, and Sierra Leone. They also have 14 operating companies in Asia Pacific. Three of these are in China and two are in Vietnam. The other operating companies in the Asia Pacific territory include ones in Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Lao, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Singapore, Sri Lanka, and Thailand.

Most of the Operating Companies Are Located in Europe and the Americas

Although Heineken is now an international company, their roots are in Europe. They began in the Netherlands and then expanded across Europe before venturing into the international market. Most of their operating companies are still located in European countries. Surprisingly, they only actually have one operating company in the Netherlands, yet they have six in France, three in England, and two in Switzerland. They also have operating companies in Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Scotland, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, and Spain. Some of their largest operating companies are in the Americas. These include Haiti, the Bahamas, Brazil, Jamaica, Mexico, Panama, Saint Lucia, and Suriname.

Heineken Marketed a Beer Named After a Place Where They Do Not Have a Brewery

Heineken market a lager called ‘Beanntrai Bru’, which translates from Irish to ‘Bantry Brewed’. Although Bantry is a town in Ireland, Heineken do not have a brewery at this location. In fact, there are no breweries at all in this town. Therefore, it seems a little strange to have a beer of this name. The nearest brewery is in Cork, Ireland. This is the only brewery owned by Heineken that is located in Ireland. There is no known reason why this Heineken product has been named after a town in which they do not operate.

They Are the Largest Brewer in Europe

Heineken was founded in Europe, so it is little wonder that Heineken has become the most popular brand of lager in this continent. In fact, it is little wonder that it has grown to become the largest brewer in Europe. Their various acquisitions and their strong marketing campaigns have led to them becoming leaders in their field. Heineken remains the base for many of their major operating companies and breweries for them to meet the ever-increasing demand for their products within the European market.

They Have a Portfolio of 170 Beer Brands

When people think of Heineken, they usually just think of the lager that comes in either green bottles or cans and features the red star. However, Heineken International is a massive company that boasts a huge portfolio of over 170 beer brands. The two largest brands they produce are Heineken and Amstel. The majority of the other brands are mainly pale lagers. However, they do produce some other styles of beer. Some of their best-known brands include Tiger Beer, Cruzcampo, Starobrno, Zywiec, Birra Moretti, Red Stripe, and Zagorka. Since the takeover of Scottish and Newcastle in 2007, they have also added Newcastle Brown Ale, John Smith’s, and Strongbow to their portfolio. Since the takeover of FEMSA, new brands include Kloster, Indio, Dos Equis, Sol, and Tecate. They have even recently added a cider blend to the list of alcoholic beverages they produce. As Heineken acquire more companies and expand their global reach, the number of beer brands they produce is likely to increase.

They Have a Strong Advertising Strategy

Heineken have always had a strong advertising strategy and this is one of the reasons why this brewery has enjoyed such huge success. Heineken is instantly recognisable for its green bottles or cans and the bright red star that features on the packaging of their products. Their television advertising was particularly well-known in the UK as they used the same TV campaign for over 30 years. It featured the well-known slogan ‘Refreshes the parts other beers cannot reach’. This TV campaign ws aired for the last time in 2005. Since 2011, they have used the song ‘The Golden Age by The Asteroids Galaxy Tour as part of their campaigns. They also launched an Internet advertisement in the same year called ‘The Entrance’. This was a YouTube hit and achieved over four million views. They followed this with their next campaign ‘The Date’. The combination of these different marketing strategies has led to the strength and recognition of the Heineken brand and is one of the reasons why Heineken is known globally.

They Sponsor Many Sporting Events

Although they are a company that produce alcoholic drinks, they are well-known for sponsoring many major sporting events around the world. The best-known of these is the Heineken Cup, which is an annual rugby union knock-out competition. It involved teams from the six nations; England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, France, and Italy. Although this event no longer exists, Heineken continue to sponsor European Club Rugby. Heineken are also the sponsors of a tennis event called the Heineken Open and they have played an important role in the UEFA Champions League since 2005. As of 2016, Heineken have been the official beer sponsors for Formula One and this has been since the end of the Canadian Grand Prix of that year.

There is a Museum at the Original Brewery in Amsterdam

For anyone who is interested in learning more about the history of Heineken International, there is a chance to do so if you visit the very first brewery they opened in Amsterdam. Their original brewery has its own museum. This is called the Heineken Experience. It is all about the Heineken brewery and Heineken Pilsner. The museum building was built in 1867 and it remained in use as a brewery until 1988. Part of the building was torn down in 1991and, in the remaining building, the Heineken Reception and Information Centre was opened. The name of this building was changed in 2001 to the Heineken Experience. The museum is an interesting attraction for people of all ages as it features a guided tour, interactive activities, rides, and various exhibits. Adults are also treated to two full glasses of Heineken lager.

They Were Convicted of Price Fixing

Heineken’s history has not all been smooth-running as this company has experienced both highs and lows. One of the most significant low points in the history of Heineken was when they were convicted of price fixing. They were fined 219.3 million Euros by the European Commission in April 2007. They were not alone as Grolsh was fined 31.65 million Euros and Bavaria was fined 22.85 million Euros. This was for organizing a price fixing cartel in the Netherlands that totalled 273.7 million Euros and operated between 1996 and 1999. InBev was also involved in this operation. However, they escaped a fine as they were willing to provide decisive information about the cartel. Those involved tried to cover their tracks by using code names and abbreviations to organize secret meetings.

They're Known for Labor Exploitation

Another black mark in the history of Heineken is that they have a reputation for labor exploitation. This particularly relates to their operating company in South Africa where it was discovered that some workers were working for as little as $20 per 12-hour shift at the brewery. This is something for which Heineken has been widely criticized. However, Heineken have denied that it is their responsibility. They claim that these employees are hired by a third-party recruitment service and are not directly employed by them. According to Heineken, this absolves them of any responsibility with regards to the low pay-rate of employees. This is despite the fact that these employees are working beside those employees who are hired directly by Heineken in the same brewery facility.

Charlene de Carvalho-Heineken is the Majority Shareholder in the Company

Charlene de Carvalho-Heineken has a 25% controlling stake in Heineken International. She got this share in the company through inheritance. She is the daughter of Lucille Cummins and Alfred Henry ‘Freddy’ Heineken. Her mother is also from a brewing family as she is a member of a Kentucky family of bourbon whiskey distillers. Charlene de Carvalho-Heineken was born in Amsterdam on June 30, 1954. However, she now lives in London, England. She was educated at Rijnlands Lyceum Wassenaar and then studied for a law degree at Leiden University. She is now also an executive director of Heineken International. She is married to Michel de Carvalho, who is a financier and a director of Citigroup. He is also a member of the supervisory board of Heineken Netherlands. The couple met while on a skiing holiday in St. Moritz, Switzerland, and now have five children together. On the death of her father, Charlene de Carvalho-Heineken inherited much of his fortune and his stakes in the company. This led to her becoming the wealthiest person with Dutch citizenship. She is also on the list of the top 20 richest female billionaires in the world.

Heineken Also Sponsors Music Events

In addition to sporting events, Heineken also sponsor a wide range of musical events around the world. Two of the main music events that are sponsored by Heineken are the Heineken Open’er Festival in Poland and the Oxegen music festival in Ireland. Another music event in Ireland which is sponsored by Heineken is the Ballyheigue Summerfest which is hosted in County Kerry. These sponsorships are beneficial to both parties. The money invested by the brewing company helps the events to take place while Heineken benefit form increased brand awareness and improved sales.

Garrett Parker

Written by Garrett Parker

Garrett by trade is a personal finance freelance writer and journalist. With over 10 years experience he's covered businesses, CEOs, and investments. However he does like to take on other topics involving some of his personal interests like automobiles, future technologies, and anything else that could change the world.

Read more posts by Garrett Parker

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