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Free Beer? Miller/Coors’ Sowed Wild Oats is less threatening as Whole Duopoly

| Friday October 26th, 2007 | 2 Comments

beer032.jpgSeems like Miller and Coors have spent enough time together in line at the keg, that they are threatening to tie the knot.
Will The FTC sue to prevent a Miller/Coors wedding? It would seem ridiculous to leave an emerging beer duopoly with 80% of the U.S. market unchallenged in light of the recent challenge to Whole Foods buying Wild Oats. Yet for some reason, the FTC wants to re-open the Wild Oats/Whole Foods case.
On the one hand, we have two relatively small grocers whose brand is built with a healthy/organic slant, together controlling less than 10% of the U.S. grocery business; on the other hand, the number two and three brewing giants, controlling 29% of the U.S. beer market between them. Hmm, which is more threatening to the American consumer – actually being able to buy decent healthy food in most population centers from a well-run company, or 79% of the beer market being controlled by two companies?
I suspect the merger will go through with much less fanfare than the Whole Foods/Wild Oats Combo, and SAB Miller-Molson-Coors will join Anheuser-Busch in an industry with more hyphens than competitors.
Certain pundits will no doubt tell us that the average beer consumer will probably benefit from the duopoly, as the FTC regulators will probably benefit from the brewing lobbyists’ free beer.
Why? Perhaps because Miller and Coors pack two powerful weapons: top notch lobbyists and a bottomless keg.
Maybe this type of discrimination is prompting Whole Foods to join an organic lobby.


As to the proposed beer merger, duopolies are the next best thing to monopolies for profits, although Airbus might disagree right now.
If you can’t beat them, join them, and if you can’t join them, get a lobbyist, but please, after all the lobbying is done, and most of the microbreweries are bought up or run out of business, can the FTC please focus on insuring that Whole Foods coolers still stock artisan beer? Coors’s Silver Bullet and Bud Light should only be allowed to penetrate a market so far. Unless…
Anyone over there at the FTC for a recycled can of Bud Light Organic?
Now that wouldn’t threaten anyone would it? It’s hard work protecting the public from the healthy food cartel.


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  • Paul Smith

    Samuel, can you explain the mathematics? It seems to say they’d control 29% of the market, then 79%.

  • Sam Clarkson

    Sorry if that was a little vague, SAB Miller-Molson-Coors will have 29%, Anheuser-Busch 50%