AB InBev may be in hot water in Belgium, which is coincidentally where the company is headquartered. The European Commission has accused the beer conglomerate of violating European Union competition laws.
Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager sent a formal statement to AB InBev alleging that the company unjustly prevented Belgian wholesalers and supermarkets from purchasing the popular beer brands Jupiler and Leffe from France and the Netherlands, where they are less expensive, according to the Financial Times.
“Belgian consumers may have had to pay more for their favorite beers,” Ms. Vestager said. “Such practices would breach EU competition rules, because they deny consumers the benefits of the EU single market — choice and lower prices.”
The European Commission alleges that AB InBev attempted to thwart supply from the Netherlands by placing a cap on the volume that exporters could buy on promotion, withdrawing incentives, and retaining popular brands to keep them from being sold in foreign markets. The commission also accuses AB InBev of switching to single-language labeling in France and the Netherlands in 2009 in an attempt to prevent exportation to Belgium, where beers are labeled in both French and Dutch.
“While there is no legal requirement to label products in more than the official languages of an EU country, most European manufacturers print many regional languages on their goods to save costs by scaling production,” writes Rochelle Toplensky in the Financial Times.
AB InBev released a statement in response to the accusations. “It would not be appropriate for us to comment further concerning the European Commission’s decision to issue a Statement of Objections in relation to certain alleged practices on the Belgian beer market, other than that we have been working constructively with the EC since the investigation was announced in June 2016.”