Democrats Court Beer Geeks by Going After ‘Big Beer’ Monopolies
The party's "A Better Deal" initiative specifically takes aim at Anheuser-Busch InBev.
With Republicans firmly in control of both houses of Congress and the presidency, it’s no surprise that Democrats are searching for new ways to appeal to voters. This week, party leaders unveiled their latest rebrand, called “A Better Deal,” and somewhat unexpectedly, it includes a direct pitch to none other than craft beer drinkers.
Without delving too deeply into politics, this Better Deal has three main goals that can be summarized as better wages and jobs, a lower cost of living, and modernizing the economy. One of the key points of that second tenet is “We will crack down on monopolies and the concentration of economic power that has led to higher prices for consumers, workers, and small business.” The Dems even released an additional four page explanation about cracking down on monopolies, providing five specific examples: airlines, cable/telecom, food prices, eyeglasses, and the beer industry. On that last subject, the document openly offers support of craft brewers while taking shots at the industry’s proverbial and perennial punching bag, Anheuser-Busch InBev.
“As of 2016, five breweries controlled over 50 percent of global beer production compared to ten companies in 2004,” the statement reads. “Although there is a burgeoning craft brewery industry, these small businesses are under threat from large legacy brewers that are acquiring their craft competitors or trying to block craft brewers’ access to the marketplace. In the last year, InBev which owns Anheuser-Busch and is the world’s largest beer company, struck a deal to purchase SABMiller, the second largest. The companies have already announced that jobs will be cut as a result of the merger, and the resulting conglomerate will make it even harder for small, local breweries to compete.”
Needless to say, these kinds of statements are music to the ears of any craft beer brewer or drinker, likely regardless of party affiliation. The anti-big beer sentiment has been especially potent as of late with AB InBev facing backlash over all sorts of recent moves including buying craft brewer Wicked Weed and investing in beer rating website RateBeer. The craft beer trade group the Brewers Association even recently introduced a seal for brewers to use to promote that they are “Certified Independent Craft.”
Still, it’s interesting that Dems have chosen to tango with a beer brand that directly and indirectly employs tens of thousands of people and is drank by millions more. Keep in mind, craft revolution aside, Bud Light is still by far the most drank beer in the US. Typically, craft beer drinkers would seem to be a bit more of a bohemian crowd that probably already leans a bit liberal. In some ways, for a “new” plan, this craft beer shout-out feels a bit like preaching to the choir.
For its part, AB doesn’t even feel like targeting its merger with SABMiller is fair. “In that deal, AB did not acquire any new assets in the U.S. from SABMiller because all U.S.-based assets were divested,” an AB rep told Brewbound. “Our position in the U.S.-market did not change at all as a result of this deal, and, therefore, it is inaccurate to suggest that this deal in any way affected competition in our industry.”
When it comes to choosing a political candidate, the old adage goes “Who would you rather have a beer with?” With this initiative, it sounds like the Democrats are stating loud and clear they'd opt for said beer to be a craft brew.