It’s a Super Bowl ad still fresh on the minds of corn farmers. Bud Light struck controversy when it released a prime-time ad that touted the fact its beer doesn’t contain corn syrup. In reality, corn syrup is part of the beer-making process for brands like Miller Lite, however, it never makes it into the final product. The ad started a twitter feud, with the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) calling out Bud Light’s claims.
Now MillerCoors is thanking Anheuser-Busch, as the Bud Light controversy could be leading to fading sales of Bud Light beer. In an interview with U.S. Farm Report, MillerCoors said Bud Light sales are down since the Super Bowl, while Miller Lite sales are increasing, and Coors Light sales are flat.
“The other thing that we've seen is farmers and agriculture communities across the country are up in arms - as they well should be – and retailers and stores across the country are telling Anheuser-Busch they don't want this messaging in their stores,” said Adam Collins, vice president of communications for MIllerCoors. “Anheuser Bush is having a hard time keeping their story straight about why they're doing this to begin with, but ultimately, we're here to sell beer. Beer is supposed to be fun. It's supposed to bring people together. And so that's what we're focused on.”
Anheuser-Busch, however, said that's false. A spokesperson told U.S. Farm Report the feedback since the Super Bowl has been positive, and retailers across the country support the company's recent marketing stance.
"We have received a tremendous amount of positive feedback from our retail partners," an Anheuser-Busch spokesperson told U.S. Farm Report. "Thousands of stores across the U.S., including the biggest retailers, feature the new Bud Light signage and collateral around transparency and the ingredients we use to brew Bud Light. Any claim to the contrary is simply not true."
Anheuser-Busch InBev isn’t backing down regarding the recent advertisement and the distaste expressed by the agricultural community. The ad is still airing on television and the company continues to defend its Super Bowl ad, saying consumers have a right to know what’s in their beer.
"Consumers are demanding more transparency around the food and drink they consume and Bud Light is leading the transparency movement for beer," said an Anheuser-Busch spokesperson. "While Bud Light has never used corn syrup, Anheuser-Busch does use it in certain value brands, which are driven by price. Anheuser-Busch proudly supports farmers and the agricultural community. We source our ingredients from U.S. farmers, including 98% of our barley, 100% of our rice and all of our corn – for a total investment of $5.5 billion over the past 10 years. Last year, Anheuser-Busch purchased more than 1 billion pounds of corn ingredients. We fully support corn growers and will continue to invest in the corn industry."
MillerCoors is taking a different marketing approach since the Super Bowl. The company said corn syrup is used in the beer-making process, however, it’s a process of which the company isn’t ashamed.
“It's a sort of a bizarre set of circumstances that Bud Light would attack our beers and attack American ingredients at the same time on really the largest stage in the world and the Super Bowl,” said Collins. “Our view is we're proud of our beers, we're proud of our ingredients and we're proud of the farmers who grow them.”
Collins said partnering with farmers is a long-term focus for the company.
“This is not a short-term partnership in our view,” said Collins. “We're here at the Commodity Classic talking to growers. We already have great relationships and we’re wanting to build new ones. There's so much that binds us together than just a few beers.”
Collins said one of the common goals of both MillerCoors and agriculture are lofty sustainability goals; goals that can be reached together.
“Sustainability is really crucial to the brewing process, and we know it's crucial to the farmers and growers all across the country,” said Collins. Both are looking at how do you reduce waste? How do you make sure that you're getting the most out of out of your efforts? And so there are a lot of opportunities, as we've been here over the last few days as we're working with organizations, for us to share things that we've learned and to really learned a lot from the farmers themselves.”
MillerCoors said instead of bashing farmers and ingredients that go into beer, the company is opting for a different route—toasting farmers who help make the beer they brew possible.
“As long as we're brewing beer, we're going to need great ingredients, so we have a number of really good partnerships and relationships with growers, and we want to build new ones. Ultimately, we believe that our great beers are going to be here for another 140 years, and we want farmers to be there to help us make that possible.”