Factions in The Beer Industry

Lager Heads, Jeremiah McWilliams blog on St. Louis Today.com, has an interesting story about a Marin Institute report on the mergers of Anheuser-Busch In Bev and Miller-Coors. The Institute is upset by Justice Department approval of these mergers and the potential negative effect this increased concentration and foreign ownership of the brewing industry will have on the three-tier distribution system.

The report is very negative about the country’s two largest brewers while being supportive of wholesale distributors. As McWilliams points out, some brewing analysts are seeing this as a “divide and conquer” strategy on the part of the Marin Institute. This approach has the potential to create division between the various aspects of the brewing industry.

Although wholesale distributors and the brewers have acted in concert when faced with potential tax increases, they do not have exactly the same interests. The NBWA is a larger and powerful lobby; there are more distributors in the country than brewers. The Marin Institute reports also proposed higher federal beer taxes so, in the end, the distributors and brewers may be on the same side in opposing this.

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