The global alcohol industry and its corporations and biggest brands
With non-profit classifications, deliberately confusing do-gooder names such as the International Center for Alcohol Policies and the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility, and frequent name changes, it can be challenging to distinguish organizations with true public health motives from those with vested interests. Through their SAPROs and industry think-tanks, the Producers position themselves ingeniously and can confuse media outlets, policy makers, alcohol scientists and the public, which often assume the information is coming from an independent reliable source.
International Alliance for Responsible Drinking (IARD)
The Global Producers seem to be taking control of the public relations battle with the public health community by securing stronger control of front organizations that can be more directly involved in their “Commitments” agenda.
ICAP’s metamorphosis seems to be a strategic maneuver to extend the Global Producers’ already sizeable power.
Who is the IARD?
It’s a lobbying front group for 12 of the largest multinational alcohol corporations – a merger of ICAP and GAPG. It’s a lobbyism giant for the alcohol industry, covering all three industry branches – wine, beer and liquor – and representing the majority of global regional alcohol brands. Many of these corporations are interconnected on their own part (shown by the violet color code). So, what’s the political agenda of IARD? Public health or the profit interests of these brands and corporations?
IARD exposed: representing corporate brands not public health interest
International Center for Alcohol Policies (ICAP)
ICAP is registered as a non-profit, but it is funded by 15 of the world’s leading alcohol producers, most of which are the same companies that comprise the GAPG. It was founded in 1995 by a consortium of alcohol companies, including MillerCoors, which at that time was part of tobacco giant Phillip Morris.
Who is ICAP?
There is strong evidence that ICAP has progressed primarily into a an industry public relations organization dedicated to the advancement of industry-favorable alcohol policies
ICAP has revealed is true colors as an instrument of the transnational alcohol producers. If at one time the ICAP slogan of “Analysis, Balance, and Partnership” seemed persuasive to some, can anyone doubt the hollowness of these words now?
Global Alcohol Producers Group (GAPG)
GAPG represents the world’s 13 leading beer, wine and spirit producers including Beam, Bacardi, Pernod Ricard, AB InBev, and Diageo.
Since its inception, the organization has spent more than $1 million on lobbying the US government alone, taking positions that seem to be diametrically opposed to those recommended by the public health community
In 2012, SpiritsEUROPE was formed by the merger of Confederation of European Spirits Producers (CEPS) and the European Forum for Responsible Drinking (EFRD). EFRD may be better recognized by its previous name—The Amsterdam Group (TAG). Its members include many of the same producers who make up the GAPG, including Beam, Diageo, Brown-Foreman and Pernod-Ricard.
The Distilled Spirits Council is the national trade association representing the leading producers and marketers of distilled spirits in the United States. DISCUS says about itself:
The Council protects the industry from higher taxes and works diligently to reduce trade barriers across the globe…
DISCUS member company Pernod Ricard has been fined 10 billion KRW for tax evasion.
The National Tax Service (NTS) found that the whiskey maker inflated costs for advertisements and other transactions so it could report lower profits and thereby avoid taxes, the sources said.
Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility
The members of the FAAR are some of the same alcohol producers that form IARD, such as Bacardi USA, Pernod Ricard USA, Diageo, Hood River, Edrington, Constellation Brands, Brown Forman and Beam Suntory.
Diego is the world’s biggest producer of liquor.
In 2011, GAPG member Diageo, considered to be the world’s largest spirits company, reached a foreign bribery settlement with the US Securities and Exchange Commission to pay $16m to resolve allegations that it bribed government officials for over six years in India, Thailand and South Korea to boost sales and receive favorable tax treatment (US Securities and Exchange Commission, 2011).
SABMiller is the world’s second largest beer producer.
The civil society organization ActionAid exposed SABMiller’s unethical tax dodging schemes:
SABMiller is the world’s second largest beer company, with interests across six continents. Its brand portfolio includes the major international names Grolsch, Peroni and Miller, as well as iconic African beers Castle and Stone Lager. Africa is its heartland, the continent where it began and whose brewing industry it dominates.
Yet SABMiller group has more tax haven companies – a massive 65 – than it has breweries and bottling plants in Africa.
ActionAid estimates that SABMiller’s tax dodging schemes may have lost governments in developing countries as much as £20 million, which is enough to put a quarter of a million children in school.
Another member of GAPG, AB InBev, producers of Budweiser and many other brands, were implicated in the decision by FIFA to pressure the Brazilian government to allow alcohol sales at the World Cup football stadiums. Predictable increases in violence and mayhem have been reported during the games. Pressure from FIFA and AB InBev on Russia, host of the 2018 World Cup, has resulted in the passing of a bill which will suspend the alcohol advertising ban put in place in 2012 as part of a campaign to curb alcohol abuse and alcoholism (Baber, 2014).