For the second time in a month, attorneys with three Florida law firms have filed litigation on behalf of state consumers alleging that Anheuser-Busch Cos. (AB) sells a formerly imported beer “in a way that misleads consumers into believing that Kirin beer is still made in and imported from Japan, and accordingly sell[s] Kirin beer at prices substantially higher than those of domestic beer.” Suarez v. Anheuser Busch Cos., LLC, No. ___ (Fla. Cir. Ct., Miami-Dade Cty., filed October 25, 2013). Information about the Beck’s beer litigation, asserting virtually identical claims on behalf of a putative nationwide class against AB in federal court, appears in Issue 500 of this Update.

Brought in the names of just two consumers, the Kirin beer litigation notes that external, six-pack, bottled beer packaging fails to state that the product “is brewed in the U.S.A. with domestic ingredients. In fact, the packaging for Kirin Beer has an image of the mythical Kirin, next to Japanese characters.” According to the complaint, individual bottle labels, which can be viewed only by removing a bottle from the pack, state “Brewed under Kirin’s strict supervision by AnheuserBusch, Los Angeles, CA and Williamsburg, VA.” The complaint also asserts that the company’s Website claims that “Kirin Ichiban and Kirin light are imported Japanese style pilsners.”

The plaintiffs contend that consumers are deceived into paying more for what they believe is an imported product made with quality ingredients and that retailers, restaurants and bars are also confused; many allegedly charge more for the product than for domestic beer. Alleging violation of the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act, the plaintiffs seek declaratory and injunctive relief, attorney’s fees, costs, and other unspecified relief.


Issue 502

About The Author

For decades, manufacturers, distributors and retailers at every link in the food chain have come to Shook, Hardy & Bacon to partner with a legal team that understands the issues they face in today's evolving food production industry. Shook attorneys work with some of the world's largest food, beverage and agribusiness companies to establish preventative measures, conduct internal audits, develop public relations strategies, and advance tort reform initiatives.