Just like the US, the Italian craft beer scene is under attack. But it’s not a direct attack; it’s a more sinister occurrence from within. The aggressor is In-Bev.
While this might not seem an important issue, the reality is that In-Bev represents all that is wrong with our food industry. For Italian tourism, this is a key offense. What makes the US and especially Italy’s beer scene so important is its return to quality. In-Bev’s homogenized world is gobbling up small and large independent craft breweries like Star Trek’s borg. And just like the borg, they will assimilate the craft beer industry until there is no more. What will be left are, well, the same tasteless, unhealthy products that they have been serving up for decades.
Craft beer is about quality. Much of it is about local ingredients which help local farmers. But this too is the stranglehold that In-Bev puts on us. Taking away the small markets is how they keep their power. The more independent breweries they take, the more of the local factor they eliminate. As they buyout craft breweries who more often buy local products, they abolish the expense of fresh goods, and in turn they help eradicate that small farmer’s market that has become so essential and synonymous with craft beer. Why? Because it is cheaper to make quantity than quality. Their goal isn’t to keep seeking imaginative ingredients, fresher ingredients like local cherries, plums, apricots, malts, hops and so many other local produce used in making quality beer. In-Bev’s drive is its bottom line. Period.
According to Forbes, In-Bev made $204.6 billion in 2016. This year they have also acquired a large part of Coors-Miller. The detriment also comes in their controlling distribution. In-Bev has its own distribution and it outnumbers craft breweries and their smaller distributors by many folds. This gives them the absolute power to put their products in the larger market, the Krogers, 7-11s, etc.
Craft beer communities make cities unique. Their quality beer which can’t be found elsewhere makes those cities destination points. Craft breweries are locally bred, community oriented businesses. They thrive on being part of a neighborhood. This isn’t what In-Bev cares about. All they care about is that every store, bar, restaurant has their industrial swill.
Their latest tactic has been to acquire craft beer breweries, snatching them up all across the globe. They promise to keep their products intact, but inevitably, and in short time, they get to the business In-Bev is most lucrative at, bottom lining that bought company. But more deceptive is their shoe-in through branding. While you the consumer may think you are drinking a craft beer, like Shocktop, Blue Moon (Coors), Elysian or Goose Island, the truth is, they’re all just one company that in the future will become a homogenized group of nothing good. Their recent acquisitions make In-Bev seem like you have choices, but instead you find that every product is theirs. They coerce, bully or simply pay-to-play their way into every corner or market.
In the end a homogenized beer market has a hand in a homogenized food market. And that can become your bottom line in quality and diversity.