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Area beer sales leader laments 'drinks with umbrellas'

John Saputo reacts to industry decrease.

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  • | 6:00 a.m. August 10, 2018
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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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