Michelob ULTRA’s Pure Gold “6 for 6-pack” Program Aims to Bring Organic to the Forefront

Michelob ULTRA launched its new USDA-certified organic beer, Pure Gold, last week and promoted it in a 60-second advertisement during Super Bowl LIV this past Sunday. This program stemmed from the company’s 2019 initiative, “Contract for Change”, which are three to six-year contracts offering premiums for transitioning to organic barley.

While these contracts were only offered to barley growers in Idaho at first, Anheuser Busch now has a partnership with the CCOF Foundation to fund $500,000 in grants for farmers across a range of crops to make the transition to organic. Michelob ULTRA’s Vice President of Marketing, Azania Andrews said in a recent press release, “There’s an imbalance between consumer preference for organic production and the amount of organic farmland we currently have in the U.S. to support this need. The future of organic beer relies on more farmers converting to organic; we feel a responsibility to help provide choice and support to those who want to transition so that together we can help farmers sustain and grow their business and provide consumers the products they want.”

The Facts Behind Organic Farming in the U.S.

USDA Economic Research on U.S. Organic Farms

Transitioning to organic farming is a costly and time-consuming operation. The USDA requires a 3-year minimum of organic practices without charging premium prices to be eligible for organic certification. The Michelob ULTRA Super Bowl ad stated that less than 1 percent of our farmlands are currently organic and focused on the monumental challenges, farmers who want to make the transition, face.  And they have a point. As of 2016, out of 2,055,340 U.S. farms, only 14,217 are USDA-certified organic. That’s 0.7 percent of U.S. farms.

Organic products accounted for 4 percent of total food sales in 2012, a number that is steadily rising each year. Fruits and vegetables make up 43 percent of total organic products bought. This puts quite a bit of pressure on the 0.7 percent of organic farms to keep up with this growing demand.

The Potential Impact of Michelob ULTRA’s Super Bowl Commercial on U.S. Farmland

Michelob ULTRA’s new program advertises that for each 6-pack of Pure Gold bought, the company will help transition 6 square feet of farmland to organic. To put this into perspective, it would take 7,260 cases of Pure Gold beer to transition one acre. The average U.S. farm is 443 acres, meaning to fully transition one average U.S. farm to organic would take over 3.2 million cases of beer.

While this new promotion may not make as big of an impact on U.S. organic farming as it claims, there are other positive impacts it can create. Within a 60-second Super Bowl commercial, Michelob ULTRA just got millions of Americans thinking about where their food comes from and U.S. agriculture as a whole. The story of the American Farmer is being shared and people are noticing. That in itself is to be commended.

AgAmerica is proud to be a champion in celebrating the American Farmer, farmers like Jamie Johnson, Randy Wheatley, and Richard Hudson. Our nation, as well as communities around the globe, depend on these hardworking American farmers and ranchers to keep our communities thriving with vital products like food, fiber, and fuel. Learn more about these dedicated individuals who keep us fed through our documentary series on The American Farmer.