For the mega-brew merger to go forward, along with divesting certain properties, it looks like the Federal Government also added some much needed assistance for smaller brewers. Whether it will be enough is another question.
1. The “Voluntary” AB Incentive for Performance plan is now shelved. This plan incentivized distributors who shut out brands that ABInBev did not want competing. The Department of Justice, in the settlement, wrote that it “prohibits ABI from instituting or continuing practices and programs that disincentivize distributors from selling and promoting the beers of ABI’s high-end and other rivals.”
2. Buying distributors is now capped as well. With ABInBev owning somewhere in the neighborhood of 7%, they will be barred from going over 10%. Which they more than likely will do.
Rest assured that the Brewers Association will be closely monitoring the situation. The group has been opposed to the merger of ABInBev with SABMiller from the get-go but, at least, there was some help given by the DOJ.
I have been of the opinion that if any of the industrial foreign owned breweries wanted to buy up little craft ones that it was sad to me personally but also part of the evolution into a new world of craft beer business. They could buy a brewery a month for years and not dent the overall numbers.
What I was worried about was that the beer that I wanted could be blocked from shelves or poorly handled by a distributor who was beholden to ABInBev or SABMiller. That blockage could seriously hamper the growth of a brewery.
Now we will see how well the rules are followed.