Justice Department Sides With Local Breweries In Worries About Anheiser-Busch Urge To Merge With Corona

7:33 AM, Feb 6, 2013   |    comments
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WASHINGTON (WUSA/CBS NEWS) -- The Justice Department is getting into a battle over beer.

There are at least 2,000 local brewers around the country, such as Port City in Alexandria, Va, and the department agrees with their worry about one beer giant getting even bigger and dominating the market.

The Belgian owner of Anheiser-Busch already controls almost half of the U.S. beer market - and now it wants to merge with the makers of Corona, which is America's most popular imported beer.

Local brewers like Port City's Bill Butcher worry such a deal could force his products out of stores.

"There's a limited amount of shelf space out there and the big suppliers have influence over what goes into the set...If one supplier gets too big then they can have the opportunity to limit that choice in the market and that's bad for consumers. And it's interesting the Justice Department agrees with that view," said Butcher.

The craft beer market has been gaining popularity. The growing industry represents only 6 percent of the market, but as sales of large domestic beers decline, craft beers are up 11 percent. 

As local breweries like Port City multiply, the opposite is happening with the big beer makers, which are consolidating.

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