The craft brew scene in the US is blossoming and the UK’s market has also grown immensely. However, things are a bit tougher south of the border. While there have certainly been some innovative new offerings from Mexican craft breweries, things are growing increasingly difficult. The problem here is the stranglehold on the beer market by Mexico’s two largest breweries.
The problem for craft brewers in Mexico stems from the fact that Grupo Modelo and Cuauhtemoc Moctezuma dominate the landscape. In fact, the trend is so strong that many bars and restaurants buy their beer from one of the two companies and no one else. That leaves little room for the growth of startups. That trend has had serious effects on what Mexican consumers drink. One study cites that only eight out of every 100,000 beers consumed in the country are craft beers which is actually kind of frightening when you think about it. It certainly puts the success of the US craft beer industry in a new light!
The entire system in Mexico seems stacked against the little guy. For example, most ingredients have to be imported and even bottles are not readily available outside of importers. That kicks the price of beer up considerably and puts it beyond the reach of many “average” drinkers. The government doesn’t offer any breaks on taxes for small brewers either. The cost of taxes must be passed on to the customers which drives the price up even more.
Be that as it may, the real problem is that it is difficult to get craft beers out in the market through sellers of any type. Because of the cost difference and pressure from the two giant breweries, most resellers simply have no shelf space (or tap space) for anything that’s out of the ordinary. It’s not all bad news though. There are signs that things are beginning to change (albeit slowly).
More and more Americans are becoming aware of unique Mexican craft brews, particularly those who live along the border states. For these drinkers there’s little difference between Mexican and American craft beers – south of the border beers are high on flavor and character just like their American counterparts. A small revolution is also brewing in some of Mexico’s more developed urban areas where the higher price of craft brews is not quite so much of a put-off. Finally, some brewers are taking things into their own hands and opening up beer boutiques and brewpubs to highlight their brews.