USA: Authenticity of WalMart’s craft beer questionable

For more than half a year Walmart, the world’s largest retail company that operates hypermarkets, discount department stores, and grocery stores, has been selling its own craft beer in the United States. But it is now questioned, if the offering of brands like Cat’s Away IPA, After Party Pale Ale, Round Midnight Belgian White, Red Flag Amberand Pack of Trouble can be really considered “craft.”

According to the American Brewers Association a craft brewery must not have an annual production of more than six million barrels (7.04 million hectoliters) of beer, fewer than 25 percent of the brewery should be owned or controlled by “an alcoholic beverage industry member that is not itself a craft brewer” and the brewer’s product is mostly derived from “traditional or innovative brewing ingredients and their fermentation.”

The Washington Post (WP) now revealed that Walmart’s supplier, a company called Trouble Brewing in Rochester, New York, is in fact Genesee Brewing Company, also based in Rochester. Genesee was purchased in 2012 by Florida Ice & Farm Co (FIFCO), a Costa Rica based producer of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages and is in the eyes of WP not a craft brewery.

Doug McMillon, President and CEO, Wal-Mart Stores, could therefore soon face a lawsuit for allegedly misleading consumers. Last year, a federal court filed a similar lawsuit against MillerCoors about the “craft” nature of its Blue Moon beers. The plaintiffs in that case had argued that the beer behemoth had deliberately distanced itself from the Blue Moon brand in order to sell the beer for a higher price.

Teresa Budd, a senior buyer for Walmart’s adult beverage team, says there’s no intention to deceive consumers. “We were intentional about designing a package that conveyed a look and feel you’d expect of craft beer,” she said.

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