In a move that could have dramatic ramifications for several major brewers, Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador has proposed ending beer production in Northern Mexico due to water scarcity.
On 8 August, at his daily press conference, Lopez Obrador said: “This is not to say we won’t produce any more beer, it’s to say that we won’t produce beer in the north – that’s over…If they want to keep producing beer, increasing production, then all support for the south or southeast.”
The increasing severity of the droughts in Northern Mexico has been particularly noticeable around the city of Monterrey in the state of Nuevo León. Benjamín Ordoñez-Díaz, a researcher at the Monterrey Institute of Technology, told The Washington Post that the growth of industry and a population boom have increased demand for water, while climate change has made the weather more erratic and rainfall less likely:
“The drought in the past only affected cattle and farmers in the beginning, but in this moment [it] affects families, affects farmers, cattle and all the industries who have been developing in the area”
One of those industries has been brewing. Cuauhtémoc Moctezuma Brewery, a subsidiary of Heineken, has a facility in Monterrey, as well as several others around Northern Mexico. Across all of its sites, it produces approximately 3.09 gigalitres of beer annually, enough to fill more than 1,200 Olympic-sized swimming pools.
Heineken Mexico released a statement on 3 August that said: “…we delivered 500 thousand cans of drinking water, committing ourselves to generate seven million more cans to be distributed to the communities of Nuevo León.” Households in the region have had to ration water for weeks.
In addition to organising tankers to deliver water to those in need, the group also announced at the time that 20% of the water used in the Monterrey plant would be assigned to the local water and drainage services network. db has reached out to Heineken Mexico to ask for its response to Lopez Obrador’s latest suggestion.
Other brewers that will be affected by the proposal include AB InBev-owned Grupo Modelo, Mexico’s leading beer producer, making beers including Corona, Modelo and Montejo. db has also reached out to the group.
Mexico is a major global producer of beer – by some estimates the world’s fourth biggest – and a geographical shift in production will have consequences far beyond the domestic market.