Bud Light’s corn syrup snub riles farmers

February 15, 2019

An ad aired during the Feb. 3 Super Bowl has the nation’s corn growers in a froth.

The Anheuser-Busch medieval-themed ad showed a Bud Light kingdom transporting unwanted corn syrup to castles belonging to Miller Lite and Coors Light. The message is that Bud Light is “brewed with no corn syrup,” unlike its market competitors.

“This struck a nerve with farmers,” said Mark Lambert, communications manager for the National Corn Growers Association. And he doesn’t mean in a good way.

Shortly after seeing the ad, Kevin Ross, first vice president of the National Corn Growers Association, posted on Twitter a video of him pouring out a can of beer, saying “Bud Light, you’re not standing with corn farmers. We’re not standing with you.”

Ross, who farms near Underwood in western Iowa, said he was disappointed in what he called a misleading commercial.

“This one struck a nerve with me,” Ross said. “It’s just unfortunate you would use a platform like the Super Bowl to try to mislead people.”

The National Corn Growers Association too slapped back at Busch with a tweet — “America’s corn farmers are disappointed in you. Our office is right down the road! We would love to discuss with you the many benefits of corn! Thanks @MillerLight and @CoorsLite for supporting our industry” — that was liked and retweeted thousands of times.

Sweeteners and starches can be used in the fermenting process to make beers, even if little remains in the end product. In fact, 12-ounce cans of Bud Light and Miller Lite list zero grams of sugar, while Coors Light lists 1 gram. Each has about 100 calories, with carbs ranging from about 3 to 7 grams.

“The ad campaign is not well thought out considering the source of sweetener in an alcoholic beverage is a moot point. All the sugar is converted to alcohol during fermentation,” Lambert said.

Ross said Anheuser-Busch officials reached out to the National Corn Growers Association before the end of the Super Bowl game and hopes the two groups can have a positive conversation.

Two days after the Super Bowl, Lambert said the corn growers are “holding their feet to the fire to seek some kind of resolution. We are in an ongoing dialogue with the Bud Light folks and we hope something good comes from this.”

Anheuser-Busch said it “fully supports” corn growers and will continue to invest in the industry. “Bud Light’s Super Bowl commercials are only meant to point out a key difference in Bud Light from some other light beers,” it said in a statement.