This week Beer Distributors of Massachusetts told a Legislative Committee that they strongly support breaking an impasse with breweries that will allow breweries much greater flexibility to change distributors.
The Emerging Breweries Bill, H.2823, would allow breweries that make less than 30,000 barrels (413,000 cases) and are privately owned and operated to change distributors at any time, for no reason. Distributors, who invest in marketing and materials and purchase inventory, would have to be compensated the fair market value for their investments.
Beer distributors have called the bill “The 97 Percent Solution” because it would extend this benefit to 97 percent of breweries in the United States.
“This legislation is fair and reasonable, and it benefits the vast majority of breweries in Massachusetts and across the country,” said Rep. John Mahoney of Worcester, chief sponsor of the bill. “We are in the midst of a golden age of beer, and this measure will help breweries to continue to write their impressive economic success stories throughout the Commonwealth.”
The Legislature’s Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure held a hearing on the bill September 12 at the State House in Boston. Three representatives of family-owned distributors in Massachusetts testified in favor of the bill.
Mark Tatelman, a fourth-generation owner-operator of Merrimack Valley Distributing Co. in Danvers, called the Emerging Breweries Bill “a fair and reasonable solution allowing genuine emerging and startup breweries a new choice while keeping Massachusetts’s family owned beer distributors independent of the established breweries that have already enjoyed great profitable success.”
Michael Epstein, a fourth-generation owner-operator of Horizon Beverage Co. of Norton, which employs 500 men and women, said the Emerging Breweries Bill would clarify the current arrangement between distributors and breweries: “H.2823’s approach is simple and straight-forward. It establishes an easy to understand volume level and provides enhanced distribution flexibility” for breweries whose production falls below that level. Epstein praised the flexibility allowed in H.2823, which will make it easier for emerging breweries to grow and expand.
“This bill clearly represents a win-win situation for both breweries and distributors,” Epstein added.
Jamie Salois, vice president of Atlas Distributing in Auburn, urged the committee to approve H.2823.
“We proudly represent many of the established and emerging breweries in operation today,” Salois said. “We invest a tremendous amount of time, money and labor by providing breweries warehousing, delivery, sales and marketing personnel, fleets of delivery and merchandising vehicles, quality control capabilities, as well as additional social media and promotional opportunities. It is our goal and in our best interest to provide all of our brewery partners, regardless of size, the same opportunity to grow and flourish in the Massachusetts market.”