Anheuser-Busch InBev will pay partial refunds to select buyers of Beck's beer as part of a settlement of a class-action lawsuit that alleged the brewer falsely marketed the U.S.-made beer as a German import.
While Beck's in the past has used German imagery in its marketing, Anheuser-Busch InBev moved production to St. Louis in 2012. The complaint, originally filed in 2013 by a Florida resident, alleged that the brewer misled consumers into believing that Beck's is still imported from Germany by "claiming that Beck's beer "Originated in Germany" with "German quality." Still, as the original complaint noted, Beck's bottles contained text noting the beer was a "Product of the USA." But the plaintiff argued that it was shown in "obscure white text" and was not present on six-pack or 12-pack containers.
The settlement agreement, which was approved by a federal judge this week in a Florida court, stipulates that Beck's add "Brewed in USA" or "Product of USA" on labels and on the front and back of packaging. An A-B spokeswoman said that labeling changes have already been made.
The agreement also calls for refunds for Beck's purchases made in the U.S. between from May 1, 2011 to June 23, 2015. The brewer will pay 50 cents per six pack and $1 per 12 pack. Payments are capped at $50 per household with proof-of-purchase and $12 without a proof of purchase. Reuters reported that plaintiffs' attorney Tucker Ronzetti said at a court hearing that some 60,000 claims have been filed and more are expected.
Jorn Socquet, VP-U.S. marketing at A-B InBev, confirmed the settlement in a statement. But he added that "we believe our labeling, packaging and marketing of Beck's has always been truthful, transparent and in compliance with all legal requirements. A-B brews Beck's to the highest-quality standards, and is proud to employ the finest American brewmasters to produce Beck's for the U.S. market."
A-B InBev is not alone in making import-sounding beers in the U.S. For instance, MillerCoors makes Foster's -- which has been marketed as "Australian for beer" -- in the states, not Down Under. And while Red Stripe has long been associated with Jamaica, brand owner Diageo began making it in the U.S. a few years ago.