Nikos Zois, Managing Director, Heineken Srbija

Safety Comes First!

HEINEKEN Srbija actively operates at two breweries in the country. Its brewery in Zaječar is proud of its longstanding tradition and brewing expertise that dates back to 1895, while its Novi Sad brewery is one of the region’s most technologically advanced breweries


HEINEKEN Srbija strives to contribute to the community in which it operates with the highest quality standards, respect for human rights and protection of the environment with every move and project. And that will certainly continue to be its path in the future

HEINEKEN has two breweries in Serbia. Do they apply all the procedures and standards of the parent company, which are often stricter than those prescribed by European regulations?

HEINEKEN Srbija is a brewer in Serbia that actively operates at two breweries, one in Novi Sad and the other in Zaječar. While the brewery in Zaječar is proud of its longstanding tradition and brewing expertise that dates back to 1895, the Novi Sad brewery is one of the most technologically advanced breweries in the region.

All the policies and standards that exist within HEINEKEN have been introduced and implemented in our local company, and these policies and standards are indeed often even stricter than those specified by European regulations. Our Novi Sad and Zaječar breweries have both obtained the most prestigious international certificates for quality, business operations, production, organisation and environmental protection, such as ISO 9001, food safety policy FSSC 22000, environmental protection policy ISO 14001 and health and safety policy ISO45001.

In everything that we do, we always place our health and safety, as well as that of our families, consumers and partners, above everything else. Each and all of us do everything that we can, both personally and professionally, to take the best care of ourselves and all the people with whom we cooperate. Our goal is clear: safety comes first!

We are committed to the environment, social sustainability and responsible consumption, on a path to a net zero, fairer and healthier world

It seems that caring for the community in which you operate and the environment is not seen as a legal obligation, but as a company mission. Does the impression deceive us?

Transparency in daily work and communication, respect for the individual, local community and society, passion for quality and social responsibility represent the core values of our company.

As an integral part of the communities in which we operate, we establish, develop and maintain strong relationships not only with the towns where our breweries are located, but also with all other towns and cities, with the goal of maintaining traditional values and benefiting the quality and standard of life for all citizens and our employees.

We take care and nurture our local product and can proudly say that our Zajecarsko is bearer of the trademark Čuvarkuća, designed and supported by the Serbian Chamber of Commerce, as a product made of raw materials of local origin.

Over the last ten years, HEINEKEN Srbija has invested around 200 million euros in this beautiful country, including investments in our breweries, processes and the improving of standards, but also many corporate social responsibility projects. Just to mention some of the latest contributions we did. When the COVID outbreak started, at the very beginning, we donated 100,000 euros for the procurement of additional respirators for people affected all around Serbia, while through our Zaječarsko brand, together with our consumers, we provided 100,000 free meals for vulnerable Serbian citizens, in cooperation with the country’s Food Bank. All our employees joined the campaign and personally donated additional food for people in need in Zaječar, Novi Sad and Belgrade.

The “Brew a Better World” programme, which is multi-layered and multidimensional, has entered the second decade of its existence. What messages does it carry?

Over the past decade, ‘Brew a Better World’ has had a profound impact on our business. In close alignment with our stakeholders, we have developed a strategy that is that is so simple, that it fits on a coaster but concise, including all the relevant priorities and challenging but achievable goals. ‘Brew a Better World’ remains our foundation and the task we set for ourselves and in working with others. ‘Raise the Bar 2030’ reflects the increased ambition of our new action plan.

HEINEKEN Srbija follows and respects the global sustainability agenda, but is always observing through the lens of the local context, as well as identifying the greatest needs of the local communities where we operate.

We are committed to the environment, social sustainability and responsible consumption on a path to a net zero, fairer and healthier world.

We are committed to achieving carbon neutrality in production by 2030 and in our full value chain by 2040, with zero wasteto- landfill by 2025.

When it comes to our people, we will maintain equal pay and fair wages for all our employees and are committed to achieving 30% female leaders in senior management by 2025 and 40% by 2030, on the path to gender balance.

In order to provide choice and moderation, in Serbia we offer all our consumers three zero-alcohol options through Heineken 0.0, Laško 0.0 and Laško Malt Mix 0.0, while we establish strong partnerships on responsible consumption and further improve them every year, thus reaching as many consumers as possible with messages of responsible consumption.

HEINEKEN Srbija has reduced water consumption within its processes by 75% over the last decade

How does your company, which has been investing huge funds to improve wastewater treatment and control systems for a long time, view this issue?

Water is crucial to beer production. It is the main ingredient of the finished product, but it is also used during the entire supply chain, including in the growth and cultivation of crops. Through our sustainability programme and different initiatives, we are focused on the protection of water resources. A comprehensive programme called “Every drop counts” is built on three principles of water conservation: efficient use of water (using as little water as possible); application of the circular economy principle in water use (water purification and reuse); and responsible water management (basin maintenance to absorb more atmospheric water).

Heineken Srbija has reduced water consumption within its processes by 75% over the last decade and strives to maintain this trend year on year.

The water used for the entire process of our beer production is ultimately released into nature, but in a strictly controlled way, through a wastewater treatment plant – a special plant for industrial water treatment that has the function of purifying water and rendering it safe for the environment before its final release into nature.

What is meant by the term “inclusion & diversity”, which you often use? What message are you sending with this term?

As a global company with operations in over 70 markets, we are multicultural and have integrated I&D into our people plans, talent management strategies, employee engagement and everyday operations. Although beer might be seen as mostly a man’s drink and job, we are very proud of all our strong and dedicated female colleagues, who comprise close to 40% of our leadership team and we will continue to expand it!

Inclusion and diversity must be combined and it is all about the fact that everyone feels that they can express themselves, their thoughts and concerns without any doubt or fear. We are all equal at our job and we nurture the environment with strong bonds among us, all aiming at achieving fairness and respecting everybody’s integrity.

As of 2020, you have more than 130 nonalcoholic product variants in your portfolio. Will you continue to invest in this area; do you think this is the direction to go in the future?

Changes in drinking behaviour, healthier lifestyles and the simple desire for more choice and variety have all contributed to the rise of the low- and no-alcohol drinks. This drives our companies to innovate continuously in the area of low- and noalcohol (LONO) drinks, in order to provide a growing variety of LONO brands.

Heineken 0.0 is a non-alcoholic beer made according to a unique recipe that’s recognisable for its balanced taste of barley malt and fruit notes, and is aimed at responsible consumption even on occasions such as lunch during working hours, when participating sports or fitness, or before driving. Heineken 0.0 was selected as the product of the year 2021 in the category of non-alcoholic beer, based on Serbian consumer experience.

We are genuinely inspired by our consumers and very excited that we can offer them a choice in every situation and at every moment.

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