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Brewing Trouble: Accusations Round AB InBev for keeping Away Cheap Beer For Belgians

The investigations from EU finds that the brewer might have intentionally prevented cheap imports from the reach of customers in Belgium.

There is no other way which could design this announcement better and prevent the average Belgian’s blood from boiling.

According to European commission, for years the drinkers in Belgium might be paying more than they should for their favorite brand of beers.

AB InBev, the largest brewing company of the world has faced accusations from Brussels that the company charges less for its famous Leffe and Jupiler beers in Netherlands and France as compared to Belgium, and uses its leading position in Belgian market to escape it.

With such news, the drinkers of any country will undoubtedly face a blow. However, for Belgians, where beer is amongst the few unique cultural artefacts, this decision is particularly annoying.

On Thursday the statement from Mergrethe Vestager, competition policy’s commissioner-in-charge mentioned that, “The consumers of Belgium might be paying higher for their preferred beers. From the initial findings, it can be said that AB InBev might have intentionally prevented cheap imports of beer from Netherlands and France to reach the customers in Belgium. Such kind of practices will breach the competition rules of EU, because these types of practices do not let the consumers benefit from the single-market choice and lower prices of EU.”

After a long investigation of 1 year, the commission stated that there were evidences proving that AB InBev was practicing “an intentional strategy” from last 8 years to prevent the wholesalers and supermarkets from buying Leffe and Jupiler at cheaper rates in France and Netherlands and then import to Belgium.

There are claims that the packaging of Leffe and Jupiler cans was changed by AB InBev in France and Netherlands so that it can be hard to sell it in Belgium. Further allegations states that French text was removed from cans in Netherlands, and Dutch text was removed from the cans sold in France. This prevented the sale of their beer in the Dutch and French speaking regions of Belgium.

ABInBev having a turnover of £38.8bn is situated in Leuven and last year, AB InBev completely merged with SAB Miller which is worth £76.5bn.

AB InBev said that it is constructively working with commission on these complaints the company’s core principle has always been and will always be integrity.

A spokesman from the company said: “At present, it won’t be suitable to say anything concerning the decision of European commission to issue an objectionable statement with regards to some proclaimed practices in the beer market of Belgium. It can only be told that the company is constructively working with EC right from the time of investigation announcement in 2016.”

“The announcement of Thursday is only a routine step. The objectionable statement does not mean that it is a final decision on the case’s outcome. Being a company, the compliance is taken very seriously.”, the spokesman further said.

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