Treasury Department Publishes Competition in the Markets for Beer, Wine, and Spirits Report

Treasury Department Publishes Competition in the Markets for Beer, Wine, and Spirits Report

By Bob Pease

The Brewers Association thanks the White House, Treasury Department, the Department of Justice, and the Federal Trade Commission for their work on this report; and we appreciate the recognition that despite growing numbers of craft brewers, beer remains a heavily concentrated industry, which poses competition challenges to craft brewers and consumers. We applaud the Treasury Department’s recommendations on how to improve competition in the beverage alcohol industry, many of which align with the Brewers Association’s submitted comments (Comment Letter OneComment Letter Two).

Upon an initial review of the Treasury’s Competition in the Markets for Beer, Wine, and Spirits reportOpens in new window, we are glad to see that the report recognizes that some laws, even those originally designed for a pro-competitive purpose, have inhibited the growth and competitiveness of craft producers.

Second, we see much to like in its conclusions and applaud the report’s focus on the Federal Alcohol Administration Act’s trade practice provisions and the continued need to combat practices like slotting fees and discriminatory conduct. Lastly, we appreciate the report’s recognition that some laws have become out-of-date and that new rules may better serve public health and foster competition.

While there remains significant work to be done at the federal and state level to translate these recommendations into improved market conditions, suggestions such as a re-examination of state franchise laws, greater direct-to-consumer access, updating trade practice regulations with an eye toward exclusionary practices, and considering the effect of small brewer acquisitions on distribution all stand to improve the ability of small firms to enter and effectively compete in beverage alcohol markets. The Brewers Association remains committed to ensuring a level playing field exists for small and independent brewers and looks forward to providing feedback to federal and state lawmakers on these recommendations and how they can be translated into a safe, competitive, and modern beverage alcohol market.