Anheuser-Busch InBev sparked backlash from corn producer industry groups and rival brewers when it aired a Super Bowl ad that shamed other beer brands for using corn syrup. Now, it looks like the 60-second commercial could have longer-lasting repercussions.
AB InBev, Molson Coors Brewing, Heineken and Constellation Brands had been discussing teaming up for a national ad campaign to revive U.S. beer sales for more than a year, but the Bud Light ad has jeopardized the alliance, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday.
U.S. beer consumption has been declining as consumers drink more spirits and wine or eschew alcohol altogether. Last year, unit case volume of beer declined by 1.5 percent, according to IWSR data. To make matters worse for the country's biggest beer producers, craft beers have been eating into big brewers' sales.
MillerCoors, Molson's U.S. division, has pulled out of meeting scheduled for next month and said the project should be paused, according to the Journal.
The Bud Light ad took aim at Molson's Miller Lite and Coors Light beers for using corn syrup during the brewing process. Although the ingredient sounds similar to high-fructose corn syrup, which has been associated with the obesity epidemic, dietitians say that the sweetener isn't all bad when used during fermentation.
AB InBev, MillerCoors, Heineken and Constellation did not immediately respond to a request for comment from CNBC.