It’s been argued that there are three entities that are uniquely American — the Constitution, baseball and jazz. For some, Budweiser should also be included on that short list.
Well, let’s just keep that list at three for now.
Anheuser-Busch, the parent company of the self-styled “King of Beers,” was recently sold to Belgian company InBev for approximately $52 billion. That did not necessarily sit well with some fans of the beverage.
“I was proud to drink Budweiser, not anymore,” said P.J. Champion, in a story on CNN.com. He continued to say that Budweiser is “a great piece of American history.”
Champion is not alone with his thoughts. Philip McClary, a resident of suburban St. Louis, posted a song called “Kiss Our Glass” on YouTube and the Web site, SaveBudweiser.com. One verse of McClary’s song states, “America is not for sale, and neither is his beer.”
Umm, Philip? It’s not for sale because InBev has not made it for sale.
There is no arguing the point that Budweiser has reached the status of icon for many in this nation. While I personally look at it as a headache in a bottle, there is no debating the popularity of the beer for scores of people.
But let’s keep a little perspective here. Budweiser is a beer. It’s owned by Anheuser-Busch, which is a company. Companies look at numbers before anything else, and the people at Anheuser-Busch saw this sale as a transaction that would result in positive numbers. Does it mean that Budweiser will no longer be available in American stores or bars? Does this sale mean the Belgians are attempting to take over our nation?
What this illustrates is further evidence of the globalization of our little planet. When I went to Ireland two years ago I was struck by how many pubs advertise outside that they serve Guinness, Heineken and Budweiser. Many of the younger patrons at the pubs were, in fact, drinking Budweiser, and I’d guess that InBev also noticed the popularity of the beer throughout Europe. There are also numerous McDonald’s and Burger Kings overseas, as companies look to constantly broaden their territory of sales.
We also see it here. Have you ever gotten a Guinness at a local bar, or a glass of Australian wine at a restaurant? The world is getting smaller every day, and people across the globe are having more and more access to similar things than ever before. With that being said, it’s really not surprising that a foreign company would want to invest in a foreign business — particularly if that product already has a global audience.
There is no questioning that Anheuser-Busch has had a long and storied history in this nation. According to TimesOnline.com, the company started in 1860 when Eberhard Anheuser acquired a Bavarian brewery in St. Louis. The article continued to say that Anheuser-Busch is America’s biggest, with 48.5 percent of the market.
But things change over time. It’s how the world works.
I heard the opinion the other day that this will cost American jobs, as InBev is certain to let go of people as it consolidates its business. There’s really no arguing that point. InBev is certainly not going to have double management teams in its company, and it is bound to move some of its operations overseas.
That being said, if Anheuser-Busch was to sell to Coors, for instance, you can believe that there would be a consolidation on that front, as well. It happens each and every time a company is purchased by another company. Someone gets moved out, someone gets moved in and some jobs just go away. That’s not the beginnings of an international incident, it’s business — plain and simple.
But, yes, Anhesuer-Busch, and Budweiser in particular, has become almost an American institution. When one thinks of American beer, Budweiser is often one of the first products that comes to mind.
However, when one thinks of Mexican beers, Corona is one of the first to be brought up in discussions. Did you know that Corona is owned by Grupo Modelo? Did you know that Anheuser-Busch owns half of Grupo Modelo?
When Japanese investors bought Rockefeller Center in the 1980s, it was widely thought that our way of life was going away. But it just never happened. Also owned by foreign companies now are Amoco, Chrysler, Westinghouse, Pillsbury, Gerber, Dove, Lysol and Alka Seltzer. Again, did any of those purchases signify the end of Americana?
It is a shame that Anheuser-Busch is no longer going to be run by the Busch family, and I say that because I love the family-owned business. However, it’s doubtful that we’re going to see any wholesale change in Budweiser, or any of these other businesses now owned by foreign companies.
This is not the end of the world — just an example of the world getting smaller.