The craft beer market in the United States has skyrocketed in the last few years thanks to a new group of American beer drinkers. Foreign investors have also played a part in the surge in craft beer sales, according to Brazilian Banker Ricardo Guimarães who is also a beer investor and lover. Brazilian breweries make a pretty good beer, and they control the market because the government has controlled imports for years. But beer making and selling is changing in Brazil, and it is also changing in the United States.
Over the past five years, AB InBev has invested in several craft beer companies. AB InBev recognizable brands like Budweiser and Bud-lite have lost market share due to the surging craft market. In order to win back that market share, AB InBev is offering American distributors an incentive plan that could put $200,000 a year back into their bank accounts. All distributors have to do is promote AB InBev craft brands instead of independent craft brands.
Anheuser-Bush will reimburse the distributor for half of the marketing and retail display costs. That plan started at the beginning of 2016, and one distributor has already agreed to follow the plan. According to banker Ricardo Guimarães, the plan is considered a payoff to gain market share, and in his opinion, that kind of deal should be illegal. The United States Department of Justice may agree with him. After receiving several complaints from craft breweries, the DOJ is investigating the AB InBev plan.
Ricardo Guimarães is familiar with plans that push small businesses out of business. Guimarães is not just a banker, he is a wealthy businessman that has interests in mining, coffee, cattle, beer and soccer. The Guimarães family bank, the BMG Bank, sponsors soccer clubs. The bank has become one of the most recognizable banks in the country thanks to the three letter orange logo that soccer players wear on team jerseys during matches. BMG Bank is a very profitable bank and Ricardo Guimarães is a respected business man that happens to love the game of soccer.
The AB InBev incentive plan may sound good to Anheuser-Bush investors, but it’s not a good deal for consumers. Even the distributorships will find that selling one company’s products exclusively doesn’t work in the long run, and the beer distributing business is certainly a long-run venture.