All froth, no beer
4 May 2020
Your piece "Craft breweries face collapse due to COVID-19: IBA" (canberratimes.com. au, April 29) makes some good points about the plight of the brewing sector. But several claims are all froth and no beer.
Usually the small brewers are some mates having a crack at making beer for a living. Good on 'em. But that romanticism doesn't change the fact that the 650 independent brewers make up less than five per cent of the Australian beer market.
Imported beers, at 15 per cent of sales volume, are three times bigger. It means the small guys are competing against each other for a niche market.
The assertion "our beer is handcrafted, which means we employ 15 times the number of employees per litre of beer", compared to big brewers, highlights two things. It goes some way to explaining why indie beer is so expensive. It also illustrates the lengths you have to go to in order to concoct an economic argument.
In reality, the three major breweries employ more Australians than all 650 indie brewers combined.
With beer sales falling 35 per cent in the wake of COVID-19 nobody has a monopoly on doing it tough.
The call for wine-type tax rebates isn't the answer. This perpetual handout is distortionary, rewards mediocrity and does nothing for punters. Governments of all persuasions have learned that costly lesson. They are loath to repeat it.
The best thing government can do for everyone looking for relief and recovery - consumers, brewers and hospitality - is freeze the next round of beer tax increases for a year. We can all drink to that.
Brewers Association of Australia
This letter was published in the Canberra Times on 4 May 2020.
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