One Other Point About Anti-Trust and Beer

Not that I’m inclined to go into a long historical disquisition on this but . . . Regarding anti-trust, beer, etc. (because that loony “news” piece is still floating around the internet), it’s worth elaborating a bit on the results of anti-trust prosecutions in the 1960s and 1970s. (By the way, the “new” version now appearing at Slate’s The Big Money is just a slightly longer version of the piece that  originally appeared in the New York Times.)

At the time, the federal government took action against beermakers, most notably Schlitz and Anheuser-Busch, when those companies tried to buy other beer companies, or when they wanted to buy brewing plants. (Eg, sometimes a company was already out of business and the one brewer simply wanted to buy the actual brewhouse, the facility.)

These properties mostly consisted of older plants with outdated or dilapidated equipment. In almost every case, the government refused to allow the acquistions. So Schlitz and A-B made their only logical, and legal, move: They invested in NEW brewing facilities. Schlitz, for example, spent millions and millions of dollars building ultra-efficient, state-of-the-art brewing plants.

No surprise, as a result both Schlitz and A-B were able to reduce their production costs and brew more beer at a lower price. Which, ya know, allowed them to gain a market advantage.

Again, there was nothing illegal about their moves, and it was the ONLY option left to them, given the anti-trust policy at the time. (Well, okay, they had another option: maintain the status quo, or, put another way, not grow any larger.)

For what it’s worth.

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