beer

A growing number of craft and artisan beers are being caught up in local high-strength alcohol bans, a trade body has claimed.

The Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA), which represents more than 800 British brewers, today called for the European Commission to force the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to act.

With around 100 authorities, covering up to 18,000 licensed premises, thought to be running schemes on high-strength booze, SIBA has written to the EC and also encouraged its members to submit examples in support of its submission.

It said retailers that agreed to participate in the schemes ran a serious risk of infringing competition law by engaging in a coordinated boycott.

As The Grocer reported earlier this month, the schemes are typically aimed at low-price high-strength beers and ciders and not ‘craft’ or ‘artisan’ beers, but many craft and artisan products are getting caught up in the bans, with consumers losing access to thousands of high quality crafted beers.

Last year the CMA said it does not plan to step in and outlaw the growing number of local authority and police schemes, despite the Association of Convenience Stores, the British Beer and Pub Association, the National Association of Cider Makers and the Wine and Spirits Trade Association all calling for action.

“Our members take great pride in the excellence and range of their beers,” said Mike Benner, SIBA managing director.

“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.”

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