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The battle over beer labels has been resolved for now after a federal judge ruled Anheuser-Busch stop using “No Corn Syrup” on their labeling of Bud Light. As The Associated Press explains, this branding has mislead consumers to believe that other light beers such as Miller Light and Coors Light do contain the ingredient. In the same article, MillerCoors has expressed that misleading consumers in this way has “irreparably harmed” their company where the three aforementioned brands make up nearly 100% of the light beer market. While the Bud Light label does not make a false claim, the combination of a condensed market and consumer attitudes gives the product label a great deal of power.
Part of the reason why the declaration of no corn syrup has negatively impacted Bud Lights competitors is due to the changing consumer awareness and attitude surrounding the ingredient. Corn syrup is the product of extracting and refining the glucose in corn, as Food Network’s Healthy Eats reports. It is ultimately 100% glucose and is used as a sweetener for processed foods and beverages. While similar in name to high fructose corn syrup, the two products differ because high fructose corn syrup is a blend of glucose and fructose.
Shoppers have become more vigilant in reading the packaging of food and beverage products to avoid ingredients they perceive to be unsavory, and corn syrup has been a recent target of disdain. As Food Network points out, corn syrup, just like granulated sugar, is a massive source of empty calories. Consumers may fill up on snacks, sweets and sugary beverages with no nutritional benefit but high calorie content. Now that most consumers are aware that corn syrup is the equivalent to sugar because it is glucose, they will try to avoid products that contain it. Depending on the product, adopting a no corn syrup label can mislead a customer to believe they are choosing a healthier option and that alternative products do contain corn syrup and are unhealthy.
The crux of the problem between Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors is that no beer truly contains corn syrup. Both articles touch upon the fact that even if corn syrup is used during the beer-making process, it is only used to activate the yeast and is nonexistent by the time the final product reaches the consumer. This is why Bud Light’s label, while not false, is misleading. This implies that MillerCoors light beer products do contain corn syrup and can cause confusion for consumers who just want to know what is in their beverage.
This is a great reminder for brewers wanting to enter the commercial market to be aware of the claims their labels are making. Just because a label is stating the truth, it does not mean it is free from legal and consumer scrutiny. When you are ready to print your custom beer labels make sure you have the printing infrastructure you need by visiting DuraFast’s U.S. store or Canada page.