Corona Beer Production Temporarily Suspended in Mexico
On Thursday, Grupo Modelo announced that it would stop brewing Corona beer, along with its other brands, as a result of the Mexican government's decision to suspend all 'non-essential' activities for the next month in an attempt to slow the spread of coronavirus throughout the country.
According to Reuters, Grupo Modelo's brewing processes will officially be suspended on Sunday, but it had already started to scale its production back. "If the federal government considers it appropriate to issue some clarification confirming beer as an agro-industrial product, at Grupo Modelo we are ready to execute a plan with more than 75 [percent] of our staff working from home and at the same time guaranteeing the supply of beer,” the company said in a statement.
The government's decision that beer-making is not an agricultural process nor food production—which are both permitted, despite the shutdown—will presumably close all eight of the plants that Grupo Modelo has in Mexico. (Interestingly, non-alcoholic beverage production facilities have gotten the OK to continue operating.)
"The government recognizes agro-industry as an essential activity, with beer being one of the most important components of this industry and the main agro-industrial export product," the company continued. "More than 15,000 families benefit from the sowing of 150,000 hectares a year of malted barley."
If Corona and Dos Equis are among your favorite brews, distributors say you don't need to worry about running out—at least not yet. The Chicago Tribune reports that distributors still have at least six weeks' worth of Mexican beer in their warehouses. On top of that, Anheuser-Busch InBev, Heineken and Constellation Brands are all reportedly petitioning the Mexican government to allow them to keep their plants open.
In the United States, breweries have been considered essential businesses and have been allowed to continue their own operations for the very reasons that Grupo Modelo mentioned in its statement. Paul Gatza of the Brewers Association told the News Tribune that U.S. breweries are still essential and operational because of their place "in the agricultural chain in provision of spent brewers grain that are used to feed local livestock." (Although they've been allowed to continue making beer, many breweries have been required to close their taprooms to comply with temporary restrictions on public gatherings.)
Mexico's decision is also at odds with how several other countries have categorized their respective wine industries. New Zealand and South America are both in the middle of their harvest seasons, so winemaking has been deemed essential, partially so that this year's grape crop won't simply be allowed to rot on the vine. Italy—which has been devastated by the effects of the pandemic—has also permitted vineyards to operate, when and where it is possible.
No one will blame you if you're opening a cold beer or uncorking a bottle of wine right this second. That seems to be universally accepted as "essential," regardless of where you are.