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Coffee Talk
Business Observer Friday, Aug. 10, 2018 11 months ago

Area beer sales leader laments 'drinks with umbrellas'

John Saputo reacts to industry decrease.

The national beer industry has had a sour time of late, as people’s alcoholic beverage habits shift to other, fancier, more flavorful drinks, according to an Aug. 1 page one Wall Street Journal story.

Alcohol beverage drinkers picked beer 49.7% of the time in 2017, down from 60.8% in the mid-90s, according to Beer Institute data, reports the Journal. Budweiser parent Anheuser-Busch InBev reports that in 2016, 43% of alcohol consumed by young drinkers was beer, a drop from 65% in 2015.

The story, beyond data, proves its thesis with a spot-on anecdote from Lakewood Ranch-based Gold Coast Eagle Distributing owner John Saputo. A retired U.S. Marine colonel, the sometimes-outspoken Saputo realized the industry had a problem, the story states, when he went out with a team of young radio-ad sales people who wanted him to advertise on a local station. Gold Coast and another Saputo-run Anheuser-Busch distributorship in Ohio, did $180 million in sales in 2017.

But, according to the Journal story, says Saputo, when it came to their own drinks, some of them ordered wine — and “even a liquor drink with a freaking umbrella in it,” he recalls. “These kids, they don’t even drink our product.”


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