Do You Know Where Your Beer Was Born?: Anheuser-Busch brews litigation with deceptive marketing

Anheuser-Busch, the world’s leader in beer production, is the target of public scorn for its alleged misleading labels and unfair marketing tactics.

In the past two years, consumers have brought as many lawsuits against the brewer for false advertisement.  Consumers are claiming that two of Anheuser-Busch’s beers mislead consumers into thinking the beer is imported, though it is actually brewed on American soil with American water and ingredients.  The lawsuits name Kirin Ichiban and Beck’s as improperly labeled beer that misleads customers into believing the beers are imported.  As consumers will pay more for imported beers, the lawsuit claims Anheuser-Busch is inflating the prices of these beers with marketing schemes to support this misapprehension.

The Kirin brand was originally brewed in Japan until 1996 when Anheuser-Busch took over brewing.  The beer is brewed in Los Angeles and Virginia under Kirin’s strict supervision.  Beck’s is also brewed in America, though the packaging does little to communicate it.  Both beers contain disclaimers on the labels that the beer is brewed in America, however the exterior packaging has no such indication.  In denying the beer company’s motion to dismiss the Beck’s lawsuit, the judge determined that the consumer shouldn’t be expected to open packages of beer in the store to determine the beer’s origin.

While the Beck’s litigation is still on-going, the Kirin appears to have reached its conclusion.  Last month, Anheuser-Busch agreed to a preliminary settlement with the Kirin plaintiffs whereby the beer company will reimburse customers up to $50 for past purchases by providing receipts.  If the consumer doesn’t have a receipt, they can still get up to $12 by filing a claim through a specifically designated website expected to be up next week.

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