The persistent sales free fall of Bud Light is now leading to layoffs for hundreds of Americans who have fallen victim to production cuts at some of the key partners for parent company Anheuser Busch.
On Sunday Fox News reported that The Ardagh Group, a glass bottle maker with plants in North Carolina and Louisiana, will be closing both plants later this month. About 645 employees will lose their livelihoods as a result. Local news station WRAL uncovered that the decision to nix so many employees was tied to “the Bud Light situation,” according to a machinist with one of the plants.
In a statement last Thursday, the company told the Ruston leader in Lousiana that the Wilson plant is closing, along with the Ruston plant, which employs 245 people. The statement doesn’t identify a specific reason for the closures, only calling them part of a “Multi-year Performance Optimization Program.”
“Since April, we’ve had a couple of machines down,” said James Munhall, Journeyman Machine Repair Mechanic. “It was, of course, being pointed towards the Bud Light situation.”
WRAL News obtained an internal memo from the Wilson plant manager dated May 18. it says, “Due to slow sales with Anheuser Inbev,” two of the factory’s production lines would be shutting down. Multiple longtime employees at the Wilson plant say most of their business was making bottles for Budweiser and bud light.
Representatives with the plant have publicly attributed the closures with falling beer sales generally, saying on its fourth-quarter earnings call that North America saw a nine percent decline in need for its glass bottles. Unions for the laid off workers are continuing to negotiate for severance packages, but that doesn’t solve the long-term problems now facing these Americans who relied on good-paying production jobs in rural parts of the country.
Since March, Bud Light has been in the crosshairs of conservative activists after the brand partnered with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney to promote its product across social media. The swift backlash led celebrities like Kid Rock and country singers to publicly destroy cases of Bud Light, leading the brand to offer camo-printed cans and free or nearly-free beer through various coupon deals. The Bud Light executive behind the ad campaign was recently fired, and top politicians including President Donald Trump and U.S. Senator Ted Cruz have danced on the beer’s grave.