ACCC decides major brewers are not unfairly locking out craft brewers

Posted by Andrea Hogan on 17th July 2017

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) says the contracts between Carlton United Breweries, Lion and licensed venues are “unlikely to substantially lessen competition” despite allegations made to the contrary.

The ACCC conducted an investigation into the contracts of Carlton United Breweries (CUB) and Lion after some craft brewers alleged these major breweries were locking them out of beer taps in licensed venues through the use of exclusivity provisions and volume requirements.

After looking into the contracts and practices of 36 venues in New South Wales and Victoria, the ACCC said their impact is unlikely to substantially lessen competition in any of the markets they investigated.

The ACCC said it would however continue to closely monitor the situation.

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 brands in exchange for rebates, infrastructure investment and refurbishment loans.

Deputy Chair of the ACCC, Dr Michael Schaper, said although some venues had exclusivity arrangements, most pubs and clubs said they did not feel constrained from allocating taps to smaller brewers and could make taps available for craft beer if necessary.

“While some craft brewers may have been refused access to taps by certain venues, our investigation found that the venues were responding to consumer demand for certain beer brands, rather than restrictions imposed by the big brewers,” Dr Schaper said

“In fact, over half of the venues contacted by the ACCC indicated that customer preference was the key factor in determining the brands, types of beer and number of craft beers offered by the venue,” he stated.


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