Independent beer distributors representing all 50 states arrived in Washington, D.C., last week for the 2016 National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA) Legislative Conference to grab the ears of members of Congress to talk about how competition in the U.S. beer market thrives because of open and independent distribution.
NBWA Chairman of the Board Travis Markstein noted that there are more than 4,000 breweries operating in the United States today, and the independent beer distribution system plays a huge part in getting brewers of all sizes to markets across the country.
“Distributors take pride in building brands — from the best-known brands to the smallest, newest labels,” Markstein said.
How wide spread is the distribution of craft beer at the distributor level right now? NBWA President and CEO Craig Purser shared data from a survey of NBWA distributor members:
- 97 percent of distributors have added at least one new brewer partner in the past year.
- 94 percent of distributors carry products from local, in-state craft breweries.
- 94 percent of distributors carry the brands of multiple local brewers.
America’s beer distributors are encouraging members of Congress to ensure the independence of America’s beer distribution system, which a report from the Boston Consulting Group calls “freely competitive and driven by consumer choice.” It goes on to explain how this system — and state alcohol laws — creates an open market for brewers of all sizes, large and small. Distributors are asking Congress, other policymakers and regulators to ensure that the American marketplace for beer remains competitive.
Senator Amy Klobuchar (MN), the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights, was the congressional keynote speaker and discussed the hearing the committee held last December on the AB InBev/SABMiller merger and the state of competition in the beer industry.
Beer distributors also are asking members of Congress to fund the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) to ensure it can regulate the alcohol industry and collect federal excise taxes in an effective manner, especially in light of an increasing number of industry participants and products.
A discussion with Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade (TTB) Administrator John Manfreda highlighted the TTB’s role in enforcing trade regulations and maintaining the regulatory structure that supports the three-tier system. Manfreda described the TTB’s focus on collecting taxes and maintaining a level playing field. Purser noted that “alcohol regulations — which are the very foundation of this great system — can only be enforced when regulators have the resources to carry out their responsibilities.”