New York man sues Foster's beer for not brewing it in Australia

By @diplomatist10 on
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A bottle of Foster's beer is seen among other Foster's brands in a pub in central Sydney August 23, 2011. Australian brewer Foster's Group sought to put pressure on SABMiller to up its $10 billion hostile takeover offer, unveiling on Tuesday a A$500 million ($521 million) capital return even as profits slid and its market share shrank. Reuters\Daniel Munoz

It is natural that shock and anger to flow out upon discovering that the favourite foreign beer brand you were sipping was not "foreign" but indeed a locally made stuff. This is what led a New Yorker to sue the United States brewers of Foster’s beer because he had been drinking it under the false impression that it was made in Australia.

Foster's is popular in the US through Paul Hogan and beer-swilling Barry McKenzie despite the brand's waning popularity in Australia in recent times.

Deception alleged

Leif Nelson, hailing from New York City, filed a class action suit against brewing company Miller claiming that he was deceived into thinking that the beer was imported from Australia thanks to the catchy slogans such as "Foster's, Australian for beer."   

The fact is - Foster's is owned by South African brewing group SABMiller and it was being locally brewed at Fort Worth in Texas. Precisely, the beer is produced at the Oil Can Breweries in Texas, reported WA Today.

Misleading campaign

The law suit filed at the Brooklyn Federal court revealed the litigant’s anguish.

“Consumers believe they are purchasing beer imported from Australia brewed with Australian ingredients, when, in fact, they are purchasing beer brewed in Fort Worth, Texas, with ingredients from the United States,” Leif Nelson’s suit stated, reports New York Post.

He noted that the brand’s marketing campaign still uses its Aussie links with tempting slogans like “Foster’s — Australian for Beer.”

Nelson argued that the iconic blue Foster's label generates the impression that it was made in Australia. The packaging of Foster's has many references to Australian culture and symbols such as the Red Kangaroo image and Southern Cross constellation. He also hit out at its inflated price, “despite the fact that the beer is now brewed in the United States with domestic ingredients.”

The New Yorker alleged that the brewer made "millions of dollars" showcasing the Australian connection. Sans that drinkers would not have taken it. Crass deception was also alleged in the Foster's "How to speak Australian" marketing campaign as it "depicts Foster's as a product from Australia by using Australian accents and scenery."

Australian brew master

However, a spokesman for MillerCoors tried to defend the Aussie touch and told the New York Daily News that the company  “employs an Australian brew master so that the beer tastes as true to its origin as possible.”

It may be sheer coincidence that a similar class action suit was slapped on another US brewer Anheuser-Busch InBev for reportedly misleading drinkers that its US made Beck's beer was made in Germany, added the WA report. That law suit was settled for US $20 million (AU$28 million) with consumers given the liberty to make claims up to US$50 (AU$69) from retail outlets of Beck's.

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