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Anheuser-Busch withdraws membership from Beer Distributors of Oklahoma

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OKLAHOMA CITY – A popular beer company made a major announcement about its future ties in the Sooner State on Wednesday.

On Wednesday, Anheuser-Busch announced that it has decided to withdraw its membership from the Beer Distributors of Oklahoma.

“For the past several years, a well-intentioned effort has been undertaken by legislators and stakeholders seeking to modernize Oklahoma’s alcohol laws. In Oklahoma and elsewhere, Anheuser-Busch is a strong supporter of modernization guided by free market principles and robust consumer choice. However, our definition of and path toward modernization does not align with the Beer Distributors of Oklahoma (BDO).”

Anheuser-Busch’s announcement means big changes for the trade organization, but doesn’t mean much to beer aficionados. BudLight

“This will not impact our distribution or manufacturing operations, which employ more than 700 people in the state, nor will it impact consumers’ access to Anheuser-Busch products,” Eric James, senior director of sales and marketing for the company, said in a statement. “BDO sought to exclude certain companies in its legislative efforts last session by taking a direction that would be detrimental to brewers, retail business partners and consumers. While the legislation did not pass, it became apparent that BDO no longer represents the interests of Anheuser-Busch or the majority of Oklahomans who desire true modernization.”

The Beer Distributors of Oklahoma also released the following statement:

“While the Beer Distributors of Oklahoma regrets Anheuser-Busch’s withdrawal from the association, this move comes as no surprise, and it is unfortunate Anheuser-Busch will not continue to support independent beer distributors in Oklahoma as they have since 1938. With the recent losses of the Monster and Constellation brands, the two Anheuser-Busch owned distributorships in Oklahoma City and Tulsa have been losing market share and struggling to execute in the marketplace while at the same time trying to control costs through reductions in Oklahoma jobs.”

It went on to say, “The BDO is committed to providing all Oklahomans with their choice of beer, strong or low point, through an open and independent distribution system. Ultimately, the voters of Oklahoma will decide what modernization means, and if that means whether Anheuser-Busch can continue to own distributorships in the state. The BDO has worked well with Oklahoma craft brewers in the market and on legislation over the years, including legislation Anheuser-Busch opposed this last session. The BDO and its independent distributors, including independent Anheuser-Busch distributors, will continue to work with all stakeholders, including our suppliers, large and small, to strengthen our beer laws and bring real reform to Oklahoma’s beer industry.”

James says those claims are unfounded.

“First and foremost, in following the laws of Oklahoma, we do not sell across territories and are not a Class B licensed wholesaler. Similar to all other NRS beer distributors in the state, our brands are available in full-strength options to all Class B wholesalers who are licensed to sell these options and wish to purchase our brands. There are approximately 10 Class B licensed wholesalers in Oklahoma who sell our products – only one is an A-B wholesaler, and he does not sell outside of territory. This is the current system under Oklahoma alcohol laws. Contrary to the BDO’s claims, in the past 12 months, Anheuser-Busch’s portfolio of brands has grown market share in the state of Oklahoma, based on brewer shipment data and IRI syndicated data.,” he said.

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