Megabrewer Merger Poses Public Health Threat

November 30, 2015

After months of press releases, media speculation, and extended deadlines, SABMiller accepted the Anheuser-Busch InBev (A-B InBev) merger proposal. Should the agreement move forward as expected, the resulting megabrewer will produce at least 1 in 3 beers around the world, lead in 24 of the world's 30 largest beer markets, and pose a major threat to health worldwide, particularly in developing countries and low-income populations.

The newly merged transnational corporation will see Africa (deemed the "final frontier for beer" by industry analysts) as a critical driver for growth. SABMiller is an established Big Beer corp that began as South African Breweries, captured more than 98% of the South Africa beer market, and acquired Miller Brewing Co. in 2002 after buying multiple other beer companies in several countries. It has already shown signs of exploiting Africa’s low per capita consumption of beer and targeting low-income populations to drive sales.

It looks like tobacco will remain part of the Big Beer mix, as well, if not gaining an even larger role. Tobacco giant Altria (Phillip Morris) currently owns 27% of SABMiller and holds 3 seats on the SABMiller board of directors. The new chair of its board is former chair of British American Tobacco. According to Altria, its leaders and shareholders look forward to participating in what will be the alcohol industry's largest company.

There are major differences in global accountability and regulation between tobacco and alcohol, in large part due to the lack of a global framework convention on alcohol control similar to the WHO tobacco control framework, which was the first global public health treaty.

And these are just two of the monumental risks to public health posed by an A-B InBev/SABMiller megabrewer.