Small brewers seek independence from big beverage companies

Posted by Andrea Hogan on 24th May 2017

The Craft Beer Industry Association has voted to disallow large brewers from holding memberships.

The association has also voted to change its name to the Independent Brewers Association.

According to chair of the association, Peta Fielding, the decisions aim to create a body better placed to address the challenges faced by small brewers in Australia.

“Our members face challenges in their business with issues such as taxation, market access and licencing that don’t align with those of larger global organisations,” Fielding said.

Previously, the association allowed membership from brands such as Little Creatures and Mountain Goat, which are both owned by large beverage companies.

Fielding said the changes will now allow the association to narrow its focus and address the needs of independent brewers, a growing industry within Australia.

“There are now more than 400 small, independent brewing businesses, up from just 200 when the association began five years ago,” Fielding said.

“The industry directly employs more than 2, 100 people and generates an estimated AUD $655 million in economic output,” she said.

What makes a craft beer craft?

The definition of what actually is a craft beer has been a hot topic recently with large beverage companies acquiring what were once independent beer brands with humble beginnings.

There is currently no standard definition for craft beer. In March 2016, consumer advocacy group CHOICE, wrote about this issue, saying “you’d expect ‘craft’ to mean beer produced in small batches to a traditional recipe”.

“You might even add to this that the brewery should be independent, with no ownership or control by a multinational brewer,” CHOICE wrote.

Under its new rules, The Independent Brewers Association, membership will be prohibited to brewers that are more than 20 per cent owned by large brewers or other businesses that hold significant brewery holdings in Australia or overseas.


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