The Independent Brewers Association (IBA) has accused the ACCC of throwing draught beer drinkers “to the wolves” by allowing the acquisition of CUB by Asahi.
The association has labelled Asahi’s divestment of two of its beer brands – Beck’s and Stella Artois – as “token” and made its disappointment clear.
In the IBA’s view, the divestment of Beck’s and Stella Artois would be “meaningless”, given the percentage of taps in Australian pubs that the two brands currently occupy.
In a statement, IBA chairman Pete Philip said: “The move by Asahi to acquire CUB is an admission that this space is already too concentrated and that the only way to break into the draught beer market is to acquire businesses with existing tap contracts.
“The large brewers know this and use their scale and resources to implement a number of restrictive business practices which have severely constrained the growth of small independent brewers when it comes to on-premise supply of draught beer.
“The loser here will be consumers as these multinational Goliaths use their massive balance sheet and nearly unlimited resources to further dominate beer taps in pubs across the country, effectively shutting out small independent breweries.”
The IBA will be asking consumers to back a campaign to break open tap contracts.
“This practice has gone on too long and the unwillingness of the ACCC to step in to protect consumer choice means that we need to take this to the highest levels of government,” adds Philip.
“All we’re asking for is a level playing field, surely having an open and competitive beer market is good for consumers. Isn’t the role of the ACCC to ensure Australian’s have the widest choice of beers available at the best price?”