AB InBev has won the latest legal battle against rival Molson Coors in what has become a multimillion dollar skirmish about corn syrup that began with a humorous Super Bowl 2019 ad.
The Anheuser Busch spot – which ended with the tagline: “Bud Light, brewed with no corn syrup” basically accused Molson Coors of using corn syrup in beers they produce such as Miller Lite and Coors Light.
“Corn syrup can be added in the brewing process to raise the level of fermentable sugars,” reports the Drinks Business. ”Molson Coors has reiterated that it uses corn syrup rather than high-fructose corn syrup, the latter of which has been linked to health problems such as type 2 diabetes.”
The commercial also destroyed a long planned alliance between some of the world’s largest brewers, including AB InBev, Molson Coors, Heineken and Constellation Brands, which had hoped to create a unified marketing campaign to tackle the industry’s falling beer sales.
And then things rapidly escalated…
In March 2019, Molson Coors filed a lawsuit against AB InBev accusing its rival of spending $30 million on a “false and misleading campaign,” and using corn syrup in some of its own products, such as Busch and Busch Light.
Which led to Federal judge William Colney issuing an injunction against AB InBev in September preventing the world’s largest brewer from claiming its beers are corn syrup-free, and barring the company from using any language implying this in its packaging.
But AB InBev appealed Colney decision and now that ruling has benn overturned.
This from the latest Wisconsin Appeals Court…
“If Molson Coors does not like the sneering tone of Anheuser-Busch’s ads, it can mock Bud Light in return,” the appeals court ruled. “Litigation should not be a substitute for competition in the market.”
This ongoing battle is a gift for beer industry watchers that keeps on giving and you can check out its timeline below…