The food and beverage industries are built on regulations, and when those regulations aren’t met, the penalties can often be severe. But there are severe penalties, and then there are banned-from-selling-anything-in-a-major-market-for-three-years severe penalties.
Reuters reports that Anheuser-Busch InBev has received a three-year government ban from selling any of its products in New Delhi, the capital city and largest city in India, over allegations of tax evasion. The ban arrives after “... a 3-year investigation which found that beer maker SABMiller—acquired by AB InBev in 2016 for around $100 billion—used duplicate barcodes on its beer bottles supplied to city retailers that year, allowing it to pay lower levies.”
According to Reuters, the ban has already led to the sealing of two local InBev warehouses, in addition to the immediate cessation of all business in the city. For its part, AB InBev plans to appeal the ban, claiming that “the Delhi government’s allegations related to operations of SABMiller prior to its takeover.” Until that appeal can take place, AB InBev will remain on a “blacklist.”
Considering that AB InBev is the world’s largest brewer and one of the world’s largest beverage companies period, holding a reported 17.5% market share in India at the moment, the ban comes as both a major blow and a reminder that most cities are not screwing around when it comes to food and beverage regulations. That’s especially true when it comes to the tax money that those regulations typically bring in. There are few quicker ways to draw attention to yourself than to sidestep your taxes, whether you’re an individual or a top-level global corporation. Long story short, sorry New Delhi, no Budweiser for you for a while.