Over at Washington Monthly, Tim Heffernan has an in-depth piece on a topic dear to my heart: the stunning consolidation of the US beer industry. He points out, as I have before, that two vast, globe-spanning companies, SABMliler and Anheuser-Busch InBev, control 80 percent of the US beer market. Heffernan argues that the two companies have essentially hit a wall in getting much bigger here—consolidation is already so extreme that there just isn't much more consolidating to do without provoking the ire of antitrust authorities. To increase their profits, he shows, the companies are moving toward a vertical-integration strategy: gunning for control of the distribution and wholesaling. That way, they can grow by extracting more revenue and profit out of each dollar Americans spend on beer.
. . . And the giants are now peddling faux craft beers like InBev's Shock Top or SABMiller's Pale Moon. So if you're running the beer cooler of the retail outlet, you'd do better to offer a couple of corporate-made craft knockoffs than a dozen genuine craft brews. "Craft is a real threat," because it represents a growing thirst for real beer; "but it's also an opportunity," because that thirst can be co-opted by knockoffs.
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