Craft Brewers Accuse Anheuser-Busch of Hoarding Hops

Anheuser-Busch might just have to change its slogan to – this Bud’s for you, but if you don’t like Bud, don’t worry. We’ve got something for you.

Bloomberg is reporting that Anheuser-Busch InBev NV will invest $2 billion in U.S. capital spending as an effort to both improve its flagship brands and also push into new categories.

Apparently, Americans’ taste for beer is slowly declining, and beer’s share of the U.S. alcohol market has lost ground to liquor for seven years in a row. With this in mind, AB InBev will look to areas outside of beer, as evidenced by the newly acquired SpikedSeltzer, an alcoholic sparkling water, and its new joint venture with Keurig on an at-home beverage maker.

The company is also extending itself into the craft beer and import market, and it has already bought nine U.S. craft-beer brands including, most recently, Wicked Weed out of North Carolina.

And while it might look like AB InBev is trying to be a brewer of the people, that might not actually be the case as evidenced by its latest dust-up with the craft beer industry. Food & Wine reported last week that the company, who acquired SAB Hop Farms in South Africa after its merger with SABMiller, would no longer be selling its highly coveted South African hops to any U.S. craft brewers, as it did in the past. While AB InBev is saying that it’s keeping the hops for its own companies because the crop yield this year was light, others in the industry are crying fowl and calling it “hoarding” and “anti-competitive.”

Food & Wine went on to say that Greg Crum, founder of ZA Hops, the brokerage that was selling SAB Hop Farms’ excess stock in the US, sent an email to his customers indicating that the move was AB InBev’s way of trying to establish a competitive advantage in an increasingly competitive marketplace, and that they just don’t want the craft brewers to have the hops.

I’m Anna Wells and this is IEN Now.