05 May 2023

Oktoberfest Blumenau sponsorship auction turns into spat between Heineken and AmBev

Brazil | A bidding that will determine, who will become the official beer sponsor of Oktoberfest Blumenau, had to be repeated after Heineken contested AmBev’s win. The contract is to run from 2023 until 2029.

Located some 600 km south of Sao Paulo, Blumenau is a city of some 360,000 people in Vale do Itajaí, Santa Catarina state, which was founded by German immigrants in the 19th century.

Second only to the Brazilian carnival, Oktoberfest Blumenau is an annual, 18-day long event, attracting an estimated 700,000 people. It is a spectacular mix of samba and oompah music, with punters sporting dirndl and lederhosen and drinking copious amounts of beer in pavilions. This year’s event will take place from 4-22 October.

Oktoberfest parade in Blumenau, Brazil (Photo: Vitor Pamplona on wikipedia.org)

Although local breweries from Santa Catarian state are also admitted to serve their beers in a separate pavilion, the Oktoberfest has long had an official brewery sponsor. A previous auction had been won by Eisenbahn beer, a brand which is owned by Heineken. The Dutch brewer had said in 2021 that it wanted to re-enter the auction but with a different brand.

An auction disrupted by harassing fire

Initially, the new bidding was won by AmBev and its Munich Spaten beer brand in March. But Heineken contested the decision on the grounds that AmBev had submitted insufficient or irregular documentation.

At a hearing, on 10 April, however, both submissions were considered irregular and both brewers were disqualified.

The two competitors were given until 20 April to present the full documentation. Blumenau’s City Hall scheduled a new session for analysing the documents for 24 April. This meeting, though, had to be adjourned and no decision was taken because Heineken again objected to AmBev’s win.

Earlier this week, Heineken's complaint was rejected and City Hall said that AmBev will be declared the winner by the end of this week, provided no further objections are lodged.

Media report that the bids given in the previous auction will be maintained. Ambev offered BRL 5.11 million (USD 1.03 million) and Heineken BRL 5.10 million.

AmBev, with brands such as Brahma, Beck’s, Spaten and Budweiser, leads the Brazilian beer market with a share of some 60 percent, followed by Heineken with some 20 percent.


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