Missouri Craft Brewers React to Anheuser Busch-In Bev's Legislative Proposal to Lease Retail Coolers
Craft breweries around the region are speaking out in Jefferson City against a bill proposed as SB 919 by Anheuser Busch-In Bev.
The bill will allow ABI to lease coolers to convenience stores and grocery stores throughout Missouri. The Missouri Small Brewers Guild has made efforts to defend the 4,300 people employed by smaller breweries across the state. With the way the distribution system currently works, larger companies like ABI have not been allowed to provide refrigeration to retailers.
“Allowing ABI to lease coolers creates an uneven playing field, and pushes us out of the market,” said Jeff Schrag, president of the Missouri Small Brewers Guild and owner of Mother’s Brewing Company in Springfield, Mo. “When was the last time you saw Pepsi products in a Coca-Cola cooler?”
Some are remaining confident even if the bill passes.
“I think the impact will be minimal,” says James Rogalsky, head brewer of Alton’s Old Bakery Beer Company. “Budweiser, Miller and Coors already dominate shelf space, yet sales are in decline. Craft brewers have seen fantastic growth in the last decade based on personal tastes changing on the grassroots level—not big budget advertising and market manipulation.”
Since the legislative calendar is up on May 13, SB 919 was not scheduled to be heard on the House floor after passing in the Senate with one vote. ABI has since put forth an amendment with the same legislation (SB 994) and it’s now passed in the House. The bill is heading back to the Senate, where it will be up for debate and put to a vote.
“While InBev has attempted to say otherwise, there can only be one reason why they want to do this and that is to make sure that their light lager and other brands are displayed prominently in grocery and convenience stores and the craft beers from Missouri craft brewers are not,” said Schlafly co-founder Dan Kopman. “There is limited space available on retail shelves and they want to limit what is on offer, to limit the market share growth of craft brewers. This will limit the ability of Missouri craft brewers to grow and employ more Missourians.”
Schrag also pressed his hopes that local craft breweries and all consumers of Missouri craft beer will contact their Senator and ask them to vote ‘no’ on SB 994.