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MillerCoors Is Now Suing AB InBev, Going to War over Corn Syrup

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The never ending, back-and-forth squabbling of the #Corntroversy between MillerCoors and AB InBev reached a new level of petulance today, as MillerCoors filed a lawsuit against Anheuser-Busch InBev Thursday. The lawsuit claims its competitors’ series of Bud Light ads first shown during this year’s Super Bowl were purposely intended to deceive customers, and seeks an injunction to stop the ad campaign from continuing.

To refresh your memory, this is the ad we’re talking about here:

It truly was a deceptive stance for AB InBev to take as a company from the very beginning, for the following reasons:

1. The ad rests on the assumption that its audience has no understanding of fermentation, and thus is unaware that any simple sugar (such as corn syrup) is ultimately fermented out completely in the finished product. Thus, although Miller Lite and Coors Light are indeed made with corn syrup, no corn syrup remains in the finished product. In both cases, they’ve been used to produce a drier, crisper profile, having been converted to alcohol.

2. Bud Light uses rice to achieve the exact same drying effect, and only chose to highlight its competitor’s use of corn syrup because of the negative association the American public has with high-fructose corn syrup—an entirely different product from what is used by MillerCoors in its beers.

3. Even more hypocritically, AB InBev also uses corn syrup in some of its own beers such Busch Light, but naturally fails to mention this. The stated goal of the AB InBev campaign is to “increase transparency” about beer ingredients, but clearly in the mind of AB InBev that applies only to Bud Light and not the multitude of other alcohol products in its portfolio.

So yeah—MillerCoors certainly had reason to be alarmed by the ad when it aired during the Super Bowl, although one can easily argue that all the subsequent bickering between the two companies has only served to bring more attention to a spat that would otherwise have quickly been forgotten. And now, the ensuing court battle will only keep the #Corntroversy in the headlines even longer. Neither side seems willing to give up an inch, while each is claiming that the actions of the other will hurt the category as a whole.

“This deliberate deception is bad for the entire beer category,” said MillerCoors spokesperson Marty Maloney, in a statement to CNBC. “We are showing the world the truth.”

AB InBev responded in the flippant way you would no doubt expect.

“MillerCoors’ lawsuit is baseless and will not deter Bud Light from providing consumers with the transparency they demand,” said spokeswoman Gemma Hart. “We stand behind the Bud Light transparency campaign and have no plans to change the advertising.”

You’ll have to forgive us for not applauding a “transparency” campaign that doesn’t mention the company’s use of the same ingredient they’re trying to demonize.

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