The European Beer Consumers Union (EBCU) has hit out at global brewer AB-InBev, which produces brands such as Budweiser, Stella Artois, Corona.
The EBCU is concerned by apparent signs that AB-InBev is seeking to increase profits by selling beer at premium prices while cutting its costs by shedding jobs, at the same time cutting out competition by restricting opportunities for smaller traditional and craft breweries. AB-InBev was purchased by SAB Miller at the start of the year and the corporation now controls around 30% of global beer production.
EBCU is the umbrella organisation for the national beer consumer groups of Europe, and counts Irish beer consumer group Beoir amongst its members.
The EBCU claims there is growing evidence of efforts to buy exclusive rights to the use of ingredients, to control packaging and distribution in the beverage market and buy influence in consumer websites.
EBCU is seeking assurances from Carlos Brito, the Chief Executive of AB-InBev, that his company's global strategy is not intent on misusing their role in the market to engineer excessive profits on its beers.
Henri Reuchlin, Chairman of EBCU, said: “The threat of the ABI mass takeover to the European consumer is obvious. The practices of the company are clearly disadvantaging small producers by squeezing their supplies of better-end raw ingredients, limiting their access to market and subtly pushing up their prices. This is particularly worrying given the extent to which the company is buying its way into the craft beer market; an area that until now has espoused an altogether different set of values.
“EBCU is therefore seeking detailed assurances that the thrust of the company’s global strategy, and European strategy in particular, is not anti-competitive and thereby damaging to all European beer drinkers”.