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Treasury Department Calls For Merger Scrutiny For Beer Industry

 |  February 10, 2022

In the past decade the beer market has been concentrating, and two big companies in the US are in the lead, prompting the Treasury Department to recommend greater scrutiny for any mergers and acquisitions in the industry.

The Department of Justice should reexamine the way it assesses combinations and regulators should take a closer look at distribution practices that may seek to exclude smaller firms, the Treasury said in a 63-page report on the beer, wine and spirits industry.

It’s not that there’s a shortage of competitors: The report notes that more than 6,400 breweries operate in the US, up from a low of 89 in the late 1970s. Still, two brewers — Anheuser-Busch InBev and Molson Coors Beverage — account for about 65% of the beer market, based on revenue. The study is part of a broader effort by the Biden administration aimed at increasing competition for the benefit of consumers.

The report reflected the administration’s “government-wide commitment to a fair and competitive economy,” Treasury spokesman John Rizzo said in a statement. The push was set in motion by an executive order signed in July.

The companies didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment. The Beer Institute trade association released a statement saying it was “disappointed by the administration’s mischaracterization of the thriving American beer industry.”

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