Believe it or not, Corona—that beer most people shove a lime into at Mexican restaurants—is the fifth best-selling beer in America. With 7.8 million barrels brought in last year, it is also our country’s number one imported beer. For most beer companies, that news would make them ecstatic, but for Constellation Brands, Inc., producers of Corona, such amazing demand has left them struggling to keep up.
The problem, according to the Wall Street Journal, is a recent shift in rights for a group of brands lumped under the Grupo Modelo name—brands that include Modelo, Pacifico and Corona. Back in 2012, Anheuser-Busch InBev bought out the Modelo Group for more than $20 billion, but that led to an antitrust suit from the US government. To appease regulators, A-B InBev ended up giving all American distribution rights for these brands to Constellation—a company that formerly focused on making wine for brands like Robert Mondavi.
Are you having trouble following all of that? Well, in some ways, so is Constellation. Part of their agreement with the US Justice Department was that they would take over all production of Corona and the rest of Modelo’s beer line-up by June 2016. That’s a pretty tall order when you suddenly go from being a winemaker to the US’s third-largest beer company, as Constellation had just done. “I never saw that coming,” Bill Hackett, president of Constellation’s beer division, told the Wall Street Journal.