The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has revealed it has conducted an in-depth investigation into the contracts of Carlton United Breweries (CUB) and Lion Pty Limited (Lion) after allegations from some craft brewers that the major brewers were locking them out of beer taps in pubs, clubs and live venues through the use of exclusivity provisions and volume requirements.
The ACCC investigation examined contracts and practices at 36 venues across NSW and Victoria and found that their impact is unlikely to substantially lessen competition in any of the markets we investigated. However, the competition regulator says it will continue to closely monitor conduct and developments in the market.
The complaints from craft brewers stemmed from some of Lion and CUB’s contracts requiring venues to dedicate over 80 per cent of beer taps to their big name brands in exchange for rebates, infrastructure investment and refurbishment loans.
Some venues purchase draught beer without a governing contract, and these were not part of the investigation. The ACCC also considered 33 contracts from small brewers and 140 from Lion and CUB.
A number of small brewers reported that they have been able to access venues that had contracts with a major brewer by selling both draught and packaged beer. Some noted successful entry after a marketing plan created brand awareness and consumer demand for their draught craft beer.
Brewer and Chair of the Independent Brewers Association (IBA), Mr Ben Kooyman, said:
Mr Kooyman was not surprised, but he was disappointed by the findings of an investigation he said started more than three years ago: "it's a little bit bewildering to honest".
ACCC Deputy Chair Dr Michael Schaper said of this issue:
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Why craft beer brands are struggling to find a place at the taps –
ACCC releases findings of beer taps investigation –
Australian Craft Beer Industry Association -
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