Beer Industry Oligopoly

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Beer Industry Oligopoly

By | May 2005
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The brewing industry was once held to competition among many breweries in small geographic areas. That was almost a century ago. The U.S. brewing industry today is characterized by the dominance of three brewers, which I will talk about in this paper. There are many factors today that make the beer industry an oligopoly. Such factors include various advancements in technology (packaging, shipping and production), takeovers and mergers, economies of scale, barriers to entry, high concentration, and many other factors that I will cover in this paper. Over the course of the paper I will try to define an oligopoly, give a brief history of the brewing industry, and finally to show how the brewing industry today is an oligopoly. Brewing Oligopoly?

The beer market has turned itself into an oligopoly in the past 100 years. Where there once were hundreds of brewers across America, there now are just a few major players in the industry. But what is an oligopoly? As defined by Ayers & Collinge in the textbook Microeconomics, "an oligopoly is characterized by multiple firms, one or more of which will produce a significant portion of industry output"(microeconomics). Oligopolies exist where a few large firms producing a homogeneous or differentiated product dominate a market. There must be few enough firms so that they are mutually interdependent, which means they must consider rival's reactions in response to decisions about prices, output, and advertising. The causes of the beer oligopoly are as followed: 1. Economies of scale exist, which indicate that a few large firms would be more efficient that many small ones. 2. A high degree of capital investment required. 3. Other barriers to entry may exist like patents, control of raw materials, large advertising budgets, and traditional brand loyalty. History of the Beer Industry

The brewing industry in the United States began in 1625 when the first brewery was founded. In the early stages the industry,...

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