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Article | May 31, 1995
Test packages of MGD show alcohol content
Milwaukee-based Miller Brewing Co., a subsidiary of Philip Morris Cos., Inc., is testing new packaging for Miller Genuine Draft in Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Albany, NY.
In these test areas MGD will be sold in brown rather than clear bottles and white rather than gold cans. The idea is to see if these packages and a new advertising and promotion campaign geared specifically to these areas will improve MGD's performance there. Interestingly the new packages prominently display the product's 5% alcohol content. Brewers are now able to include this information thanks to an April 19 Supreme Court ruling that overturned a 60-year-old federal law prohibiting all brewers from listing alcohol content on the package unless such information was required by an individual state. Coors Brewing Co. Golden CO challenged the law in 1987 and saw its position upheld in two lower federal courts before the U.S. Justice Department appealed the case to the Supreme Court last year. As the case made its way to the Supreme Court the federal Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms issued temporary rules allowing alcohol content on beer labels and some brewers took advantage of these temporary rules to include alcohol content on a small number of products usually new introductions in the "ice" category. The Supreme Court ruling makes it likely that more brewers will include alcohol content on their labels possibly on major brands. Coors lauded the unanimous decision from the Supreme Court whose members viewed the 1935 ban-originally intended to discourage brewers from luring customers with claims of high alcohol content-as a violation of brewers' rights to free speech. Chief executive officer Peter Coors hailed the ruling as "a victory for American consumers common sense and free speech. We are pleased with the elimination of this hurdle to providing truthful factual information to consumers." At press time Coors had not introduced any new packages that take advantage of the Supreme Court ruling.
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