“Why wouldn’t you want to work with a distributor?” is a valid question to someone learning more about N.C. law’s edict that a brewery must switch from self-distribution to using a distributor to deliver all of their product after reaching a production level of 25,000 barrels. There are reasons why a business could decide that working with a distributor would be right for them – there’s a level of efficiency, there could be more time to focus on brewing, the footprint of your distribution could grow wider…but the decision is not right for everyone, and there are reasons why a business would not want to work with a distributor. It is Craft Freedom’s goal to fight for the right to make this choice.
When a brewery is forced into a relationship before they are ready, they go from having personal and passionate salespeople dedicated to preaching about their product to being a small option in a large portfolio in which the distributor has little incentive to focus on their product instead of the Big Beers they represent.
“Of the estimated 3,000 U.S. distributors, about 1,100 are aligned with legacy brewers like AB InBev or MillerCoors and serve big retailers and restaurant chains as well as small stores. The remaining distributors are much smaller and do not provide as much access to large-scale retailers.”
This article explores the way Big Beer creates incentives for distributors to disrupt the balance of the marketplace and eliminates the even playing field for small breweries. For some breweries, the government mandate to hand their distribution and sales over to a distributor is a sentence to wither at the vine.
Continued Reading on Big Beer’s attempts to monopolize the market:
North Carolina BBQ Chain Boycotts Anheuser Busch for Questionable Business Practices
“Says managing partner [of a North Carolina BBQ chain, Queen City Q] Bryan Meredith in the story: “We’re all for a company to win market share due to their product and service, but we are not in favor of nor do we want to associate ourselves with a company that bullies its competition in the way that AB has chosen to.”
A Big Merger May Flatten America’s Beer Market
“[Anheuser-Busch InBev], which already controls 45 percent of the domestic beer market, also encourages independent distributors to focus on selling its owned brands over independent craft brands. The company recently introduced its Voluntary Anheuser-Busch Incentive for Performance program, which pays distributors on a sliding scale based on the share of its beers they sell — which means that if they sell craft beers, they lose money (the Department of Justice is currently examining this program as well).”