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Not so fast: Mexico officials clash over reviving beer production

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Will Corona exports resume in Mexico? Officials are at odds over whether to re-open the breweries. Photo:Getty

Days after forcing them to shut down, the federal government invited the beer industry to continue its production and distribution activities, according to a document obtained by the newspaper El Financiero.

However, on Friday afternoon Hugo López-Gatell, the undersecretary of health, said that this permission was “a mistake and it will be amended.”

Initially it looked like Heineken, Corona and other brands were getting a green light after just a brief pause.

“For the moment, we are inviting you to continue with the daily operations and activities of production and distribution, taking into consideration each and every one of the measures issued by the health authorities,” states the letter dated April 6 by Santiago José Argüello Campos, general director of Promotion to the Agriculture of the Secretariat of Agriculture and Rural Development (Sader).

The Secretariat also noted around one million tons of barley are in demand annually, directly benefiting nearly 5,000 farmers and their families and generating more than 55,000 direct jobs and more than 580,000 indirect jobs.

Grupo Modelo was already resupplying Oxxo stores (where alcohol sales are still allowed) while Heineken was preparing to do so, sources told El Financiero.

Still, López-Gatell indicated that the invitation was an error.

“It is a mistake and it is going to be amended. There is a general provision of the sanitary authority that has established with precision that all activities, except essential ones, are suspended. And that does not include the manufacture, marketing of beer. It is going to be amended, the Secretary of Agriculture has already taken action on the matter and it is going to be amended shortly. The beer industry does not have the authorization to re-establish operations,” López-Gatell said at a press conference.

The Government of Mexico decreed a health emergency in late March, suspending non-essential activities from March 30 to April 30.

Among the essential activities that did not stop due to the coronavirus emergency are agricultural, fishing and livestock production, agro-industry and chemistry.

The three beer giants in Mexico complied. Grupo Modelo previously announced the suspension of its beer production and distribution in the country due to the contingency. While Heineken said it would suspend distribution and decrease its operation, Constellation Brands reported that it would reduce its operations.

Source: El Financiero

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