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.
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

Video China Investigates Powerful Former Security Chief

Analysts say move by President Xi is an effort to win more party support, take step toward economic reforms, removing those who would stand in way of change More

South Africa Land Reforms Still Contentious 20 Years Later

Activists argue that the pace of land reform is slow and biased; legal experts question how some proposed reforms would be implemented More

In Vietnam, Religious Freedoms Violated, UN Finds

Beliefs reportedly prompt heavy surveillance, intimidation and travel restrictions More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelteri
X
Scott Bobb
July 30, 2014 8:16 PM
Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video A Summer Camp for All the World

VIDEO: During workshops and social gatherings, the Global Youth Village summer camp encourages young people to cooperate and embrace their differences, while learning to communicate with people from other countries. VOA's Deborah Block has more.
Video

Video From Cantankerous Warlock to Incorruptible Priest, 'Harry Potter' Actor Embraces Diverse Roles

He’s perhaps best known as Mad Eye Moody, the whimsical wizard in the Harry Potter franchise. But character actor Brendan Gleeson's resume includes dozens of films, and he embraces all the characters he inhabits with equal passion. In an interview with VOA’s Penelope Poulou, Gleeson discussed his new drama "Calvary" and his secret to success.

AppleAndroid

More Americas News

Argentina Defaults Again on Debt

Negotiators failed late Wednesday to reach an agreement with New York investment companies to avert the default
More

Cameroon’s Coffee Farmers Blame Government for Production Drops

Cameroon's growers, dealers and experts mourn declines in a nation that once ranked 12th in the world.
More

Argentina, US Creditors Fail to Reach Deal; Default Imminent

This will mark the second time in 13 years Argentina has defaulted on its debt
More

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Officials grapple with ways to deal with problem, provide shelter for thousands of minors among illegal border crossers
More

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Legal school segregation ended in the US 60 years ago, but research project finds it still occurs based on income and race
More

Cuban Tourism Industry Stalls in 2013; Up 3.9 Percent Through June

Statistics seen as latest indication of general slowdown in country's economy
More