According to CedarStoneIndustry, the Houston-based makers of equipment designed for both brite and unitank brewing, Mexican beer is extremely popular with American beer drinkers, so news that the country’s President Andrés Manuel LópezObrador is introducing a ban on beer brewing will likely be met with concern by beer lovers across the border.
Tackling the Drought
The ban is being introduced in a bid to deal with the issue of severe drought in the north of Mexico, with the president taking umbrage with the country’s dwindling water supplies being used by brewers to make alcoholic drinks for those across the border. However, while all brewers in northern Mexico will be unable to produce beer, President LópezObrador said, “This is not to say we’ll not produce any more beer, it’s to say that beer will not be produced in the North”. He has said that breweries that want to continue producing beer in Mexico will need to do it in the south or southeast and will be fully supported to do this.
Many big-name breweries, such as Heineken and AB InBev, are based in the north of a country that has become one of the biggest beer exporters in the world, exporting around $5 billion worth in 2019 alone. The news that they are no longer able to brew there will inevitably be a major blow to their operations. But with this part of Mexico facing one of the worst droughts in living memory, it is no surprise that the president has decided to take action to address the issue of declining water supplies.
In some parts of Mexico, such as Monterrey, the reservoirs are completely empty, and residents have no access to tap water. Instead, they have to queue up to wait for weekly tanker trucks from which they can fill up their buckets. Furthermore, according to National Autonomous University of Mexico geography professor Gonzalo Hatch Kuri, the northern part of the country’s rainfall occurs over the course of just one or two days now during the “rainy” season.
Those living in northern Mexico are being forced to cook, bathe, and clean with water they collect from the tanker trucks. According to Brenda Sánchez who lives on the outskirts of Monterrey, people are fighting over water, with tempers flaring as they struggle to cope. Some people are even blocking roads as they try to force more urgent action from the government.
Is the Problem as Bad as it Seems?
There are many activists in Mexico who are questioning why industrial users such as beer breweries have never suffered with interruptions to their operations before now if the water shortage is that bad. Nevertheless, many of the big breweries have their own wells and are not drawing water from the public network, according to Tecnológico de Monterrey engineering professor, Aldo IvánRamírez.
Nonetheless, President LópezObrador remains committed to tackling the water shortage in the north, saying, “[water] has to be prioritized and it has to be given to the people first, not water for companies”.
In a bid to help with the issue, beer giant Heineken has offered to donate a well and temporarily relinquish twenty percent of the rights it has over Monterrey water, allowing for the drilling of wells for municipal use.
This is not the first time that the president has targeted brewers. In 2020, he ordered a halt on the building of a new facility that was already under construction by Constellation Brands. The company then announced it would build a new site in Veracruz in the southeast. However, with no permits having been issued yet, work has yet to start.