A-B Dials Up U.S. Beer Prices

Higher commodity costs prompt increase across portfolio; brewer trademarks area codes

Published in CSP Daily News

ST. LOUIS -- Anheuser-Busch said on Tuesday that it plans to raise prices by 3% to 5% across its beer portfolio in October, reported Reuters. A-B seeks to offset higher commodity costs, it said.

The maker of Budweiser and Bud Light said the increases--which will vary by brand, package and market--will go through on October 3.

In a statement provided to CSP Daily News, a company spokesperson said, "Anheuser-Busch confirms it is continuing its U.S. pricing strategy with an increase on October 3 in most markets, and it varies by brand and package. Increases [image-nocss] will be between 3% and 5% and will vary by market. The company's objective is to continue its strategy of working to close the gap between our premiums and sub-premiums to a reasonable level and help offset recent cost increases driven by commodity fluctuations and other macro-economic factors."In other company news, A-B recently filed applications to trademark the signature area codes of 15 U.S. cities. Chicago-based Goose Island parent Fulton Street Brewery LLC, acquired by A-B as part of a $38.8 million deal earlier this year, holds registered trademarks on "312 Urban Wheat" and "312 Urban Wheat Ale Goose Island Chicago." When the acquisition was announced, Anheuser-Busch pledged to pump $1.3 million into boosting Goose Island's brewing capacity.

A search by The Chicago Tribune of the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office's online database shows that on May 20, A-B filed applications to trademark: "704" (Charlotte, N.C.), "216" (Cleveland), "214" (Dallas), "303" (Denver), "713" (Houston), "702" (Las Vegas), "305" (Miami), "615" (Nashville, Tenn.), "215" (Philadelphia), "602" (Phoenix), "412" (Pittsburgh), "619" (San Diego), "415" (San Francisco), "314" (St. Louis) and "202" (Washington).

Scott Slavick, who specializes in trademark law at Chicago-based intellectual property firm Brinks Hofer Gilson & Lione, said the intent of AB appears clear. "My guess is they want to come out with sort of local-sounding beer products," he told the newspaper. "People enjoy thinking that they're getting beer from a particular area."

A-B confirmed the applications, said the report, but it would not say what it intended to do with the names.

Based in St. Louis, Anheuser-Busch, the U.S. subsidiary of Belgium-based Anheuser-Busch InBev, brews the world's largest-selling beers, Budweiser and Bud Light. It also owns a 50% share in Grupo Modelo, Mexico's leading brewer.