Brito Responds: "Unwarranted Attack"

FILED MARCH 11, 2016

Dear Client:

In response to our issue yesterday regarding the Constellation Beer Corona bottle recall (see BBD 03-10-2016) we spoke with ABI's general counsel Sabine Chalmers and High End president Felipe Szpigel, who took issue with our characterization of ABI's handling of defective bottles as negligent.

In response, ABI chief Carlos Brito sent me a letter which we felt compelled to reproduce here in full, to give both sides of the story. It reads:

Dear Harry,

As you know, it is not my habit to react to media reports, but the inaccuracies and unfounded allegations, as well as the unwarranted attack on our company's values, merit a response.

The quality of our products and the safety of consumers and employees are, and will always be, our priority and we would never compromise on that. The importance of quality and safety are deeply embedded in our company culture and 10 guiding principles.

The bottles affected by Constellation Brands' voluntary recall were produced by FEVISA, a third-party manufacturer that has been supplying bottles to both Constellation and AB InBev for many years.

Our quality control procedures caught the problem and our team has been working constructively with Constellation in order to ensure this issue is resolved promptly. The glass manufacturer is cooperating in our efforts as well.
We take this issue seriously and any implication that we intentionally caused or ignored a quality problem is wrong.

Our 150,000 colleagues take great pride in the beers we brew and serve to consumers around the world who share our passion for our great portfolio of brands.

Best regards,

I have no reason to disagree with anything Brito says above, except to question why the defective bottles were allowed to leave the third party supplier or the brewery. Look, it is an unfortunate situation for all parties involved and one that -- perhaps coincidentally -- negatively affects one of their strongest competitors. As they say in Washington, DC, the optics are bad. But as I said yesterday, I truly don't believe it was malicious or intentional.

Sabine added, "I've worked with these guys for 12 years, and I can tell you that the values they hold are very important to them" so they take any attack on the company "very personally." I get it. It was an opinion piece, but happy to give both sides of the story.

Until Monday, Harry

"Some cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever they go." - Oscar Wilde

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