Pubs might seem to offer a wide selection of tap beers, but most taps in Australian pubs are controlled by one of two international brewing giants, says Tim Godfrey of Choice.
South African SABMiller and Kirin of Japan have been buying up Australian brands over recent years—some say at the expense of genuine Australian craft brewers.
“It's not uncommon for the big brewers to offer more money, rebates or other incentives for exclusive access to 80% or even 100% of pub taps, making it hard for independent brewers to get a fair go,” said Godfrey.
“We know 83% of revenue in Australia flows to the big beer barons, Kirin and SABMiller. If exclusive dealing cuts competitors, forecloses markets and keeps competitors out, it may well be unlawful.”
Choice acquired a SABMiller contract to give exclusive access to Foster’s Group. The contract stipulated that Foster’s would exclusively supply all light-strength and low-carbohydrate draught, domestic premium and sub-premium draught, all imported draught beers, speciality and craft draught beers and draught spirits and ciders.
According to Choice, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is currently investigating the wholesale supply of beer to determine whether anti-competitive behaviour is locking out smaller, genuine craft brands.
“This isn’t the only tactic the big brewers are using to muscle in on the growing craft beer market. For some time Kirin and SABMiller have been buying up craft beer brands and now currently control 47% of the craft beer market,” says Godfrey.
“These big global beer barons know there’s a price premium on claiming to be craft brews and it’s now clear their ‘craft washing’ strategy extends to exclusive dealing which sees genuine Australian craft beers locked out of the market.”