News / Americas

Mexican Beer Duopoly to Survive Competition Deal

A man cycles past a truck of Corona beer produced by Group Modelo in Mexico City July 16, 2013.
A man cycles past a truck of Corona beer produced by Group Modelo in Mexico City July 16, 2013.
TEXT SIZE - +
Reuters
— Last week's settlement to limit the arrangements by which two big brewers have sewn up Mexico's beer market, the world's sixth largest, is unlikely to open the door to substantial competition there in the near future.

After years of complaints from SABMiller, the world's second-largest brewer but barely a blip on the Mexican radar, global leader Anheuser-Busch InBev and third-ranking Heineken have agreed with regulators to curb exclusivity deals with Mexican retailers that have secured them a combined 99 percent of the market through their local units.

Seen from the mature U.S. market, where SABMiller's joint venture with MolsonCoors is strong, Mexico offers much promise - it ranks fourth in the world for profit generated and is growing at a respectable 2 percent plus per year.

The premium segment, an area of faster growth and fatter profits, is a mere 2 percent of the market now, compared with about 20 percent in the United States. And it is just over the border.

SABMiller breweries in southwestern U.S. states are already supplying Miller Genuine Draft and Miller Lite to northern Mexico, where per capita consumption is higher than the national average, and there is a greater familiarity with U.S. brands.

Yet that has given it a mere 0.3 percent of the market.

But far from hailing the deal approved with its rivals by Mexico's competition commission, SABMiller said the effect of the changes would be limited, with restaurants and 'mom and pop' shops now more accessible, but not the bars, clubs and convenience store chains.

The incumbents could concentrate exclusive agreements in the regions of Mexico they dominate - Heineken's Femsa unit in the north, and Modelo, fully owned by AB InBev since last month, in the center of the country.

“This is reinforcing the status quo of anti-competitive practices against new players,” Armando Valenzuela, SABMiller's Mexico chief, told Reuters. “It's legalizing regional monopolies.” The group may yet appeal.

Written exclusivity deals have accounted for about 30 percent of vendors, and on top there are further informal agreements, such as tying stores to a single brewer in return for a branded fridge.

Such deals are common in other developing markets, too, including those where SABMiller is strong; the London-listed brewer has 98 percent of the Colombian market, 94 percent in Peru and 90 percent in South Africa.

The biggest four brewers have bought into cozy monopolies or duopolies across the globe, making it difficult to encroach on a rival's patch.

Analysts say the changes in Mexico, including a commitment to cut exclusive supply agreements to 20 percent by 2018, should gradually change the market from one where brewers pay vendors to stock their beer to a more developed-world model where marketing spenditure is consumer-targeted through discounts and advertising.

“It's going to shift the market from push to a pull-driven, and making beer more a matter of consumer choice,” said Dirk van Vlaanderen, beverage analyst at Jefferies.

But it will take time, and in the short term, the biggest beneficiary might be AB InBev, since it could make more of an inroad into northern Mexico, currently Heineken territory, where per capita consumption is higher and U.S. brands are familiar.

Anthony Bucalo of Santander wrote in a note that AB InBev would bring in its U.S. brands Budweiser and Bud Light and, with deeper pockets and $1 billion expected from efficiency savings, it should win most “mano-a-mano” fights with Heineken.

SABMiller, lacking a distribution network or local production, will for much of the fight be just a spectator and can only hope for what it calls “pockets of growth”, even if all exclusive relationships were ended.

On the bright side, such pockets are likely to include more affluent residents in larger cities, aided by a rise of supermarkets and more developed retail chains offering greater selection.

You May Like

Multimedia Relatives of South Korean Ferry Victims Fire at Authorities

46 people are confirmed dead, but some 250 remain trapped inside sunken ferry More

War Legacy Haunts Vietnam, US Relations

$84 million project aims to clean up soil contaminated by Agent Orange More

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid

More Americas News

Photogallery Pope's Easter Prayer: Peace in Ukraine, Syria

Pontiff also called for an end to terrorist acts in Nigeria, violence in Iraq, and success in peace negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians
More

Audit Finds US Housing Aid Program in Haiti Falls Short

Results show post-earthquake USAID program has delivered only a quarter of planned number of homes at nearly twice the budgeted cost
More

Mourning, Memories in Garcia Marquez's Languid Hometown

Nobel Prize-winning author's early years in Aracataca inspired characters, tales for major novel
More

Powerful Earthquake Rattles Mexico

US Geological Survey says quake measuring 7.5 on Richter scale, was centered in the western state of Guerrero, north of Acapulco beach resort
More

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support
More

Colombian Novelist Garcia Marquez Dies at 87

Author of 'One Hundred Years of Solitude' won Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982
More