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DOJ investigates AB distributor incentives

May 26, 2016

“Officials from the United States Department of Justice are investigating Anheuser-Busch InBev over a controversial incentive plan aimed at rewarding beer wholesalers who focus on selling products from the world’s largest beer maker, according to the Reuters news agency.

Citing two unnamed sources, Reuters said antitrust investigators are asking craft brewers and distributors about A-B InBev’s incentive plan as well as supposed attempts at ‘curbing craft promotion by distributors.’

‘Concerns have been raised that ABI is seeking to create competitive roadblocks by trying to impose exclusivity, either explicitly or coercively by discouraging its distributors from doing business with competing brands or raising their distribution costs,’ National Beer Wholesaler president Craig Purser said in his testimony.

Under that initiative, wholesalers are eligible for up to $1.5 million in reimbursements if 98 percent of the products they sell are A-B InBev brands, according to a Wall Street Journal article last December.At the crux of the DOJ probe are anticompetitive concerns over A-B InBev’s Voluntary Anheuser-Busch Incentive For Performance (VAIP) program.”

— Chris Furnari, Brewbound.

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