- Reaction score
- Sydney, Innerwestside
A couple of my locals featured on Lateline last night:
Good on them!
EMMA ALBERICI, PRESENTER: Australian craft brewers have asked the World Trade Organisation to intervene in a dispute over fair trade for small local breweries.
In recent years the popularity of craft beers has increased in Australia, but the smaller brewers claim they're being unfairly squeezed by the big domestic breweries and foreign microbreweries and it's those foreign brewers who are the target of the action by the Aussies in the WTO.
On another front, the ACCC is investigating restrictive trading practices which lock craft beers out of some Australian hotels. But consumers are putting pressure on pubs to change their ways.
This report from Steve Cannane. The producer was Sashka Koloff.
STEVE CANNANE, REPORTER: This there's something highly unusual about this Sydney pub. It has 22 beers on tap, but not one of them is Tooheys New or VB.
At the Union Hotel, a hard-earned thirst is more likely to be quenched by a cold craft beer.
LUKE HISCOX, UNION HOTEL: Out of the 19 taps that are craft, we might have 40 or 50 brewers a year and so far I think this year we've had 300 different beers on tap so far.
STEVE CANNANE: It would've been unthinkable two years ago, but small brewers are now knocking Australia's best-known beers off the taps in pubs like this one.
RICHARD ADAMSON, YOUNG HENRYS: There's only one reason that those pubs will take those brands off and that's because they're not selling. So if people are just making their purchasing decision based on, "Well I want to drink that beer for whatever reason it is," - better flavour or just like the ethos of the company, like dealing with the - supporting a small guy, then that's the reason that those taps are doing well and the other ones are coming off.
STEVE CANNANE: Craft breweries are typically small, independent and focused on quality. Richard Adamson set up Young Henrys two and a half years ago. Already, he's winning international awards.
RICHARD ADAMSON: We got invited to do a - our Real Ale, which is our take on an English bitter for Wetherspoons, which is a massive pub chain in the UK. They've got about 1,000 pubs. And I'd just got back into Sydney and I checked my email and it was like: we bloody won!
STEVE CANNANE: While total beer sales are declining in Australia, craft beer is becoming more popular, driven in part by the tastes of young drinkers in inner-urban areas.
VOX POP: Before that it was just, like, standard, like, Carlton Draught or Tooheys New, that kind of thing. And they were fine, but, suddenly, like, when you taste something different, it just ...
VOX POP II: You can't go back.
VOX POP: Yeah, you can't back after that.
VOX POP III: There's some pretty special bars with a much better vibe because people are there for the beer - the craft element of the beer, not just 10 litres of it.
STEVE CANNANE: But small brewers find it hard to get their beers on tap in most pubs. That's because the hotels sign contracts that allow the big brewers to monopolise the taps in exchange for tens of thousands of dollars worth of rebates and equipment. The small brewers believe that this is a restraint of trade.
DAVID HOLLYOAK, AUST. REAL CRAFT BREWERS ASSN: This doesn't happen in other parts of the world. For example, in America, it is illegal to have one tap contracted. In the UK, it is illegal to have more than two per cent of the total UK market as tied. Yet in Australia, they're allowed to have up to 93, 95 per cent of the tap market tied up and it's not seen as an issue.
STEVE CANNANE: The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is currently investigating these kinds of supply conditions in the draught beer market.
The big breweries argue the market is already competitive.
JEREMY GRIFFITH, CARLTON & UNITED BREWERIES: It's very competitive. We actually like that people are coming into pubs wanting choice and variety. We are seeing a lot of publicans at the moment actually demanding that they - we can bring more craft beer taps to the consumer. As I said, 70 per cent of our customers aren't contracted at all and many of those ones where they do have contracts are not completely exclusive.
STEVE CANNANE: The big brewers have found another way of preventing the craft brewers eating away at their market share: buying up small breweries, such as Little Creatures, White Rabbit and Matilda Bay. But independent craft brewers say they're being squeezed from all angles. They face further restrictions in the bottle shop market and pressures from foreign craft brewers like Sierra Nevada.
DAVID HOLLYOAK: Australia's in a very unfair position because in 22 out of the 33 OECD countries are providing substantial reduced tax rates for their small brewers. And under the General Agreement of Trade and Tariffs, that is deemed a government subsidy. So, when those brewers are then importing their beers into Australia, they are being subsidised by their government. So, we're in an unfair trading position.
STEVE CANNANE: David Hollyoak has written to the World Trade Organisation calling on them to take action. As the craft brewers await decisions from the WTO and the ACCC, it's consumers who are forcing local publicans to rethink the contracts they've struck up with the big breweries.
Ray Reilly turned down a deal with Carlton & United worth over $50,000. He says the decision has already paid off.
RAY REILLY, HENSON PARK HOTEL: Big dividends. I mean, you know, just having the flexibility to do what, you know, the community really wants. And that's have a good selection of beer and we can do whatever we like to do. I mean, you know, if we take a beer on, doesn't work, we get rid of it and we put another beer on.
RICHARD ADAMSON: I think what we used to see with pubs was the offering was very much supplier-led in terms of what choice people had. It seems to be more consumer-led now, so, people want that choice.
STEVE CANNANE: Steve Cannane, Lateline.
Good on them!