The Shout Magazine (New Zealand)

Big brand beers face legal action in the US

rsz_image_-_legal_actionIn lawsuits which could have implications around the world, several plaintiffs claim brewery giant Anheuser-Busch is misleading customers by not clearly informing them that Kirin and Beck’s beers sold in America are now brewed there, not in Japan or Germany.

The claims argue that Kirin has Japanese writing and an oriental dragon on the label, and the statement confirming it is made in the US is hard to read. Those taking action against Beck’s claim the label stresses Beck’s “German quality” and states it was “brewed under the German Purity Law of 1516” while the disclaimer about being brewed in America is not prominent. Both claims argue that the beers’ cardboard packaging does not mention that the product inside is made in America and this gives the impression it is still imported.

At least one judge has some sympathy and is allowing the Beck’s case to progress. He found “the Product of USA disclaimer as printed on the actual cans and bottles themselves is difficult to read.” After checking the disclaimer did not appear on the outer packaging of a 12-pack, he ruled “a reasonable consumer is not required to open a carton or remove a product from its outer packaging in order to ascertain whether representations made on the face of the packaging are misleading.”

The company strongly denies the claims saying they have long made it clear that these brands are made in America under licence and based on the original recipes from Kirin and Beck’s.

A number of global brands, including Heineken, Stella, Carlsberg and Kingfisher, are made in New Zealand under similar arrangements.