Anheuser-Busch Cos. has reportedly settled a consumer class action alleging that Kirin® beer is represented as a Japanese import even though the products sold in the United States are brewed with domestic ingredients in California and Virginia. Suarez v. Anheuser-Busch Cos., No. 2013-33620-CA-01 (Fla. Cir. Ct., 11th Jud. Cir., settlement preliminarily approved December 17, 2014).
The October 2013 complaint alleges that Kirin’s labeling falsely implied that its products remained imported despite a 1996 agreement between the Japanese company and Anheuser-Busch to manufacture the beer in the United States and a 2006 deal that gave Anheuser-Busch the brand’s marketing and sales responsibilities. The complaint alleges that the packaging includes, in fine print, a statement clarifying that the beer is “[b]rewed under Kirin’s strict supervision by Anheuser-Busch, in Los Angeles, CA and Williamsburg, VA,” but that the statement is not visible to consumers before purchase. Under the proposed settlement agreement, consumers will receive 50 cents per six-pack and $1 per 12-pack of 12-ounce bottles as well as 10 cents per individual bottle or can, up to $50 for households with proofs of purchase or $12 for those without. Anheuser-Busch agreed to feature the clarifying statement more prominently on the bottles and add it to consumer-facing packaging, and it will stop describing the beer as imported. Class counsel will reportedly receive an award of $1 million. See Law360, January 5, 2015.