The beermaker used the slogan on Bud Light
By Diego Flammini
A large beer company must remove product labels that depict the use of corn syrup as a negative practice.
Yesterday, U.S. District Judge William Conley ruled that Anheuser-Busch’s Bud Light packaging can’t feature the phrase “no corn syrup” after its current stock runs out or after March 2, 2020, whichever comes first.
The slogan is featured on cases of Bud Light bottles and cans.
The dispute between Anheuser-Busch and its rival MillerCoors began in February when Anheuser-Busch launched a Superbowl ad discouraging the use of corn syrup in beer production and naming Miller Lite as a beer that uses corn syrup. MillerCoors filed a lawsuit the following month claiming its competitor had spent almost US$30 million on a “false and misleading” marketing campaign.
Corn producers welcome the judge’s decision.
Anheuser-Busch’s stance towards corn syrup did agriculture a disservice, said Don Guinnip, a grower from Marshall, Ill.
“I was a Bud Light drinker for years and now here I was drinking a beer that was saying the product I was producing isn’t good enough for its beer-making process,” he told Farms.com. “The Superbowl ad in February and the packaging that came afterwards didn’t do the farming community any favors with the blanket statement that corn syrup was bad, so I’m glad to see the judge make the decision he did.”
Judge Conley’s decision is a victory for the public, MillerCoors said.
“Bud Light’s campaign was bad for the public, bad for the industry and against the law. With this ruling, we are holding Bud Light accountable for its actions, and we will keep holding their feet to the fire every time they intentionally mislead the American public,” Gavin Hattersley, CEO of MillerCoors, said in a statement.
Anheuser-Busch, however, plans to take additional legal action.
“Bud Light is brewed with no corn syrup – plain and simple,” the company said in a statement. "We look forward to defending our right to inform beer drinkers of this fact at trial and on appeal. MillerCoors is resisting consumer demands for transparency in the ingredients used to brew its beers, but those demands are here to stay. We will continue leading this movement in the beer industry."
Multiple brewers use corn syrup during fermentation. Yeast consumes the corn syrup so that none of it remains in the final product.
Some Anhesuer-Busch beers, including Busch Light and Rolling Rock, use corn syrup. And some MillerCoors offerings, like Blue Moon Belgian White and Pilsner Urquell, do not.