SIBA backs campaign for EU action on collective boycott schemes
Local bans on high strength beers and ciders are ‘illegal, disproportionate and unfair’
SIBA, the Society of Independent Brewers, which represents over 820 British brewers, has thrown its weight behind the campaign calling for the European Commission to force the UK Competition and Markets Authority to act against collective boycott schemes run by local licensing authorities in the UK, which prevent the sale of higher-strength beers and ciders. It is estimated that around 95 authorities covering up to 18,000 licensed premises are running schemes of one kind or another.
SIBA has written to the European Commission and encouraged its members to submit examples in support of its submission. SIBA is concerned that retailers who agree to participate in the schemes run a serious risk of infringing competition law by engaging in a coordinated boycott. While the schemes are typically aimed at low-price high-strength beers and ciders and not ‘craft’ or ‘artisan’ beers, the Society is seriously concerned that this is not the case in reality and that consumers risk losing access to thousands of high quality crafted beers.
Mike Benner, Managing Director, said ‘Our members take great pride in the excellence and range of their beers. They make beers for everyday drinking, beers to accompany food, and beers for connoisseurs to savour and sip. They brew a huge range of different beers, both regularly and occasionally, and many of these are fabulous, complex brews of higher strength and great repute. They make beer, they sell beer, and they take the utmost pride in beer.’
‘As a responsible organisation we absolutely support proportionate, effective measures to reduce alcohol misuse, but we do not support any intervention which is not within the law. We have significant concerns about the proportionality and legality of these schemes. It is our understanding that licensed retailers who agree to participate in these schemes run a serious risk of infringing competition law by engaging in a coordinated boycott of certain products.’
‘It is essential that British beer drinkers are not unnecessarily and unreasonably denied access to the thousands of fantastic beers available across the country and the Commission should take action to ensure competition law is upheld.’