ST. LOUIS -- The glassblowers union's protest of Anheuser-Busch's use of glass bottles imported from Mexico for some of its beer products has not shattered Budweiser sales, according to retailers.
Late this summer Anheuser-Busch here said it would begin importing a small quantity of glass bottles from Mexico for use in its Los Angeles brewery sometime next year. It said the growing popularity of beer in glass bottles necessitated the move.
Anheuser-Busch does not manufacture its own bottles, and local glass suppliers were not able to meet its growing needs, the company said in a press release.
As a result, Anheuser-Busch had to ship bottles from glass plants in Oklahoma, Texas and even Florida and New York. The company has said the Mexican bottles would account for no more than 5% of its volume.
In retaliation, the Glass, Molders, Pottery, Plastics & Allied Workers Union (GMP) unveiled a billboard here that urged the public to "Demand American Beer in American Bottles."
A buyer for one leading retailer here, who did not wish to be identified, said the unveiling of the billboard received a lot of local publicity, including coverage on TV news. However, it did not evoke customer complaints or boycotts.
"I never had a complaint from a customer," the buyer said. "Mostly those bottles are going to California. They are not coming here, so it does not make a lot of difference to the people here."
Tom Roesner, buyer of beer, wine and liquor for Seaway Food Town, Maumee, Ohio, said the imported bottles, which will be sold only in California, are not expected to affect sales at his chain. However, should Anheuser-Busch start using imported bottles at its Midwestern breweries, it could stir up some problems, he said.
"If that were to hit home here in our city, which is nicknamed the Glass City, I think they [Anheuser-Busch] would have some major problems. If that publicity got out here, it would be a bigger problem than probably anyplace else," Roesner said, adding that Maumee is dubbed "Glass City" because a major Owens plant is located there.