A couple weeks ago, it was announced that Budweiser was going to be bought out by Belgian beer giant InBev for around $50 billion. There’s a good Washington Post article that gives some background not only on this transaction, but reviews the consolidation that has been occurring in the mass-produced beer world for the past few years. If you don’t follow the business of beer, I’ll sum up:
- 2002 – Miller Brewing merges with South African Brewers to form SABMiller
- 2004 – AmBev (Brazil) merges with Interbrew (Belgium) to form InBev
- 2005 – Coors merges with Molson (Canada) to form Molson Coors
- 2008 – SABMiller merges with Molson Coors to form MillerCoors
- 2008 – Anheuser-Busch merges with InBev to form Anheuser-Busch InBev
The public reaction to the AB-InBev merger that I’ve read about and talked about with my beer-caring friends has been primarily negative. Why is it that this particular merger has struck such a negative chord, while the other mergers with Miller and Coors went largely unnoticed? Perhaps it’s because after Miller and Coors were bought out, Anheuser-Busch was the last true American mega-brewer left and our patriotic nature wants to cling to that.
Now, I’m no economics professor, but we hear about mergers and acquisitions all the time in business. It’s part of living in a global economy. In such a competitive landscape, companies are always looking for ways to generate more revenue and cut costs. They have to do that to survive, and with the dollar being so weak right now, the U.S. is ripe for foreign investment.
The bottom line is for most of us, Bud is still going to taste the same, it’s going to look the same, and the Clydesdales aren’t going anywhere. It will suck if they close breweries in the States and it costs people jobs, but that’s the world we live in. We have to adapt and get stronger in other areas to compete.
So the lesson here is, as always, if you want to support American business, grab your nearest micro-brew, toast as loudly as you can, and spread the good news of craft beer!