Emory, why should a brewery be FORCED to use a distributor at all? Why is there an arbitrary barrel amount, over which, a brewery HAS to use a distributor? This doesn't exist for any other market. Dairy farmers aren't forced to use a distributor once they start producing 100,000 gallons of milk. Nor are orange growers forced to use a distributor for their juice.
Why does this law exist at all?
Email sent. Thanks for the letter. I sent a similar one.
Representative James Boles is also a co-chair. Contact info here: http://www.ncga.state.nc.us/gascripts/Comm…
Your article though informative may confusing to the reader who doesn't live on sarcasm.
Full disclosure: I'm a believer in the Free Market.
Emory: You make a compelling argument for local breweries to use a distributor, but that's all it is: a sales pitch.
Bottom line: it should be up to the brewery to decide whether or not it uses a distributor. Period. The idea that a company *must* use an intermediary to get its product to market is ridiculous and completely antithetical to the way we do business here in America. (And yes, I played the 'Mur'ca card).
That said, I'll go you one further: we should get rid of the cap altogether. Viva la capitalism!
I should also note that the contract brewing, and wine sale provisions are not at issue. Only the raising of the barrel limit and the "not counting on-site sales toward barrel count" bits.
Full disclosure: I work for a distributor.
First, whomever may be behind the website is irrelevant. MillerCoors and ABInbev would not really be affected by these bills in the slightest. In fact, they would benefit in the long term if the three-tier system were slowly dismantled. They are too busy fighting over tenths of percentage points in market share.
Second, there is no such thing as a non-craft distributor in the Charlotte market. All beer and wine distributors have some craft breweries in their portfolios, and some more than others.
Next, as usual there is only one side presented. Ask the people at Red Oak, NoDa, or Olde Mecklenburg, and they'll likely argue that they are being kept out of the market by distributors.*
*Fun Fact: distributors don't have much say in what goes on the shelves anymore.
Now ask the folks at Foothills, Aviator, Old Hickory, or Highland about their experience working with distributors. I'll not speak for them, but I will wager you will get two completely different answers from each group.
Iin truth, these bills would be a great detriment to all distributors in the state, so they would have a major stake in this battle. It would gut most companies' portfolios. Maybe not immediately, but the potential is there.
But why would this be bad for consumers? Most distributors have management-level employees who act as go-betweens for the suppliers (brewers) and the store chains. They work out the weekly deals, make suggestions for new products to go into the cold boxes and warm shelves during resets (but only suggestions. final say is still made by the chains and usually based on existing sales figures for established brands.) Granted, these sorts of things can be handled by the breweries themselves, but it takes time to build the relationships the distributors have already established. If you compare craft six pack prices around the rest of the US with the Charlotte market you'll quickly see how, at least in our market, distributors are a good thing.
Ask Triple C about how they got into Harris Teeters. I watched this process personally. They had to work really hard at it starting at the store level, and it still it took them about a year just to get on warm shelves in a handful of stores. Longer to get in the cold boxes. Keep in mind they are local and competitively priced.
Now consider the opposite extreme: Ballast Point. Non-local, and their Sculpin IPA is the most expensive six pack in most grocery cold boxes. They signed on to a local distributor and were in the cold boxes within a couple of months.
So there are pros and cons to both distribution models. I am not privy to the cost details for either side. But from my biased point-of-view contracting with a distributor is a good investment. No need for a brewery to build warehousing or order placement and delivery infrastructure. Local marketing and advertising gets handled by the distributor because if it doesn't sell, they lose money not the brewery (current law prohibits selling product back on any step of the three tiers.) I would argue that the time and money saved and reinvested into actually developing and making product far outweighs the short-term DIY method.
But, as mentioned above, I do have a pony in this race.
Art, I didn't want to assume who was behind it. So far, no one organization has stepped up and actually claimed credit for that "petition." I can say which distributor(s) were at the root of the e-mail chain that tipped me off to this story: Caffee out of Greensboro, and Carolina Premium out of Charlotte. I don't want to say if they're behind this, because I honestly don't know yet. But if it quacks like a duck...
Silly me, I should have actually looked at the petition's website. It's clear who is behind it --
"544 of those workers are employed at the state’s largest brewery—the MillerCoors plant in Eden where fulltime wages and benefits average $85,000. Another 5,600 N.C. workers are directly employed by independent beer distributors. The distributor employees have fulltime jobs with highly competitive wages and benefits averaging $71,000."
So yeah, it is (1) the macrobrewers *AND* (2) the large, non-craft distributors. Something the author would have been wise to point out in his article. And this further calls into question the integrity of the people behind the petition. The bills aren't about stifling the growth of homegrown breweries, it's about making life more difficult/expensive for the local breweries in favor of BMC and the distributors. F*** THEM.
So, if the local breweries aren't behind the petition/website -- and you rightly point out how that is unlikely -- who *is* behind the petition/website? My money is on either (1) AB Inbev and its fellow macrobrewers, and/or (2) the large, non-craft distributors.
There's going to be a 5k race at Olde Mecklenburg on September 6th called the Growler Gallop. Winners get a growler of beer.
I watched your program with interest until I saw you pour the vegetable cooking oil from the fried chicken into the large sink. As a property owner of rental units, I was appalled knowing what the grease would do to the plumbing as it goes from a liquid to a solid as the grease cools. Please do not perpetuate doing this in the future for novice cooks to replicate.
+ meant to add: maybe we can turn hershey around!
Hi, glad to have stumbled on this, such an important issue! I hope you'll write about it again. :)
Gotta hope that I'm not the only one thinking "upscale casual"?? In plaza midwood?? Puh-lease!!!
I hope they decide to serve papa rellena,empanadas, Jamaican patties and coladas.
Ponycarfan raises a good question: what's gonna happen to the Penguin sign? Do you know, Kim?
I feel slightly responsible for the Thomas Street Tavern name, not sure how that happened, I was only a helper so I can't remember exactly how it got that name but I know I was working on the menu and stuff back then with the original people (could still be the same people I have no idea) in the rubble of the post office. I never thought about it though until I read this lol. Looking forward to Comida my favorite food in the world.
She should auction-off the sign for charity
Oh, someone should let Thomas Street Tavern know ... Thanks @Tommy Brill.
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