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Columbia residents react to InBev takeover of Anheuser-Busch

Thursday, July 17, 2008 | 7:21 p.m. CDT; updated 3:12 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

COLUMBIA — As the slogan goes, when you say Budweiser, you’ve said it all. And after the recent takeover of Anheuser-Busch by Belgian brewer InBev, people have more to say about the St. Louis brewery than ever.

Issues of patriotism, brand loyalty, the economy and personal choice were on the minds of Columbia bar patrons and alcohol vendors of all ages and backgrounds Wednesday afternoon and evening. And Although the $52 billion deal between InBev and Anheuser-Busch is yet to be finalized, the opinions of some beer enthusiasts are already fully formed.

SOUNDING OFF ON INBEV

Here’s what beer drinkers had to say Wednesday night about the purchase of Anheuser-Busch by Belgium-based InBev: “That’s capitalism at its best.” — Anthony Harris at the Heidelberg “Someway, somehow they will hurt the people of St. Louis and the work force when they’re taken over.” — Cindy Robinson of Columbia at the Tiger Club “I don’t like it, but there’s nothing I can do about it. Nothing anybody can do about it. I wished I had owned stock.” — E.J. Kopine of Columbia at the Heidelberg “They’re more of a business than a brewery, InBev. I’m afraid that Budweiser’s going to lose their tradition. What’s going to happen to Busch Garden and the Clydesdales? I’m not drinking Bud Light for at least a year.” — Richard Lebens of Chesterfield at the Heidelberg “It’s depressing! What’s going to happen to the Cardinals?” — Lesley Fannin of Columbia at the Tiger Club “I personally think there’s going to be a lot of jobs cut in St. Louis. InBev is known for cutting the fat.” — Joe Lurkins at McGinty’s

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“It’s wrong. It’s American-made,” Columbia resident and Tiger Club patron Cindy Robinson said of the buyout. “If they sign, I will quit drinking Bud products. The ink won’t even be dry.” Robinson said she worried about benefits and wages being cut for Anheuser-Busch employees. Her opinion was shared by another customer at Tiger Club, Lesley Fannin, who said her drinking habits were likely to change in light of the buyout.

“More Boulevard!” Fannin said, hailing the Kansas City-based brewery. “It might be a little expensive, but I’ve got to support Missouri.”

Grindstone Liquor and Convenience Store employee Anup Tucker said he thought patriotism and the desire for an American-owned product would definitely affect his customers’ purchasing choices.

“I’ve heard a lot of people say they’ll stop drinking Budweiser beer,” Tucker said. Tucker said customers would be less likely to buy their beer from a foreign-owned company.

But some beer drinkers said they weren’t worried about the business of the buyout. Heidelberg customer Anthony Harris supported the deal and speculated that American interests would still be an important part of the business.

“If the factory is here, it would be more expensive to import ingredients because the dollar is weak. They’ll keep operations here,” Harris said.

Still others were unsure about how InBev ownership would affect their drinking habits.

McGinty’s pubgoer Joe Lurkins said he would probably keep drinking Budweiser products even after the InBev takeover.

“Just tell them you’re going to switch to something else,” said Lurkins’ friend David Petersheim.

“What am I going to switch to?” Lurkins said. “All the big breweries are foreign now.”


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Comments

eleanor griffith July 19, 2008 | 12:01 p.m.

Uh...Coors is still American..and Bud's biggest competitor?

It will be interesting to see how Bud's stock and sales do over the next few years.

Dr. Tantillo ('the marketing doctor') did a post on this topic back in June, raising the question of whether or not American ownership was a non-negotiable component of Budweiser's brand (and success): http://blog.marketingdoctor.tv/2008/06/1...

The fact that the headquarters will stay in the U.S. (in St. Louis) is definitely a smart move on InBev's part.

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