Jorge Paulo Lemann Says “Era of Disruption” Surprised 3G Capital

At this year’s Milken Institute Global Conference, 3G Capital co-founder Jorge Paulo Lemann described himself as a “terrified dinosaur” with respect to the “craft brand-driven changes in tastes and in Amazon-driven consumer spending habits that are reshaping the world’s largest consumer companies, including 3G holdings.” This according to an article in Forbes.

Lemann and four partners founded 3G Capital in 2004 while consolidating the Latin American and European beer industry, the article reports, acquiring Budweiser for $52 billion in 2008. In 2010, the firm bought Burger King (now Restaurant Brands) followed a few years later by a partnership with Warren Buffett that added Tim Hortons and Popeyes to the portfolio.

Lemann explained to the audience, “I’ve been living in this cozy world of old brands and big volumes. We bought brands that we thought would last forever…All of a sudden we are being disrupted.” The article explains that the rise of craft beer and the preference younger drinkers have for wine took him by surprise. “Now we have to adjust,” Lemann said and the article reports that 3G is “investing heavily” to do so.

The article cites comments by other speakers at the conference, including Tim Sloan of Wells Fargo, Accenture’s Julie Sweet and Principal Global Investors’ Jim McCaughan, who offered insights regarding how the age of technology has affected their businesses.