A-B Loosens Wholesaler ‘Exclusivity’

New category of distributor will remain ‘aligned’

Anheuser-Busch Inc. announced a new incentive program for distribution Thursday that allows a second level of wholesalers to be categorized as “aligned” A-B wholesalers.

Anheuser-Busch Inc. said its voluntary 2008 Wholesaler Alignment Incentive Program provides wholesalers with incentives for focusing on the performance of A-B brands and those of its alliance partners.

Currently, 59 percent of A-B volume is sold through exclusive A-B wholesalers.

The new level is available only to A-B wholesalers that do not have access to all A-B alliance brands, according to a release. A wholesaler at the new level can maintain up to 3 percent of its total volume in competitive beer and non-alcohol brands, but keep the benefits of being designated as an aligned A-B wholesaler, the company said. Those benefits include volume incentives for A-B core brands, favorable credit terms where allowed, and truck paint allowances.

A-B said the program reserves maximum benefits for exclusive wholesalers who carry only A-B or aligned partner brands.

“The decision to evolve our successful wholesaler incentive program is the result of changing conditions in the beverage industry,” Dave Peacock, vice president of marketing, Anheuser-Busch, said in a statement. “With the support of our wholesalers, we responded to consumer demand by developing the country’s most diverse portfolio of beer and non-alcohol beverages. But in some states, Anheuser-Busch wholesalers have been unable to add all these products into their businesses, and as a result, they’ve had to make difficult choices in order to effectively compete. We want to reward these valued wholesalers for their focus on our brands and make sure they are not unduly impacted by conditions outside their control.”