AB InBev scraps connection fees for small brewers

By Nicholas Robinson

- Last updated on GMT

Fairer: ABI scraps connection fees for small brewers
Fairer: ABI scraps connection fees for small brewers

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Budweiser and Stella Artois brewer AB InBev has launched new line fees, which are claimed to be fairer than those already on the market and which involve scrapping charges for small producers.

The announcement, revealed exclusively to The Morning Advertiser​, follows Heineken’s charging restructure last year, where a one-off payment of £145 was scrapped in favour of ‘pay-as-you-go’.

AB InBev, which is the world’s largest brewer, launched the new system as part of its Raising the Bar​ programme, which it claims is fairer.

In pubs and bars where AB InBev is the lead brewer, smaller drinks companies will not pay connection fees to dispense drinks on draught and will remain eligible to use the brewer’s cooling and pouring systems.

Large non-leading brewers will continue to pay a one-off connection fee of £145, a charge agreed by Brands Dispense Association members.

‘One-off connection fee’

“Other brewers have recently announced changes to the system, which would see the one-off connection fee of £145 replaced with monthly line charges of £10.50,” said AB InBev.

“This charge would be applied across all drinks companies. Should the provider not pay, the publican will then be invoiced at £13.50, with this change coming in on 1 April 2019.”

Lead brewers are responsible for maintaining the equipment of the lines, which keeps pints chilled and poured to the highest quality, while carrying out regular health and safety checks.

ABI raising the bar
AB InBev line charging scrapped for small brewers

AB InBev UK on-trade sales director Rory McLellan said: “We feel the new monthly line charges being put forward are restrictive to craft or emerging brands that have re-energised our industry and Britons’ passion for beer in recent years.

“We believe Raising the Bar​ is the best option for both the industry and beer lovers and we’re confident our fellow brewers will agree.

“Under our proposal there will be no overstretched pubs or drinks companies left footing the bill or being forced to pass costs on to pubgoers; it’s the fairest scheme for everyone involved.”

It is hoped the new system will be easier for operators to work with and will also reduce cost and administrative burdens.

‘No charge to the customer’

“There is minimal disruption to on-trade venues in terms of replacing infrastructure and there is no charge whatsoever to the customer,” McLellan added.

“This, combined with no fees for lower-volume drinks companies, frees up venues to offer a broad choice at the bar to cater to demand.”

Late last year Heineken scrapped its £145 on-off brewer connection​ fee, replacing it with a £10.50 pay-as-you-go charge, which aimed to “level the playing field”.

At the time Heineken on-trade sales director Chris Jowsey said: “Nothing is more important to us than drinkers continuing to get a great selection of excellent-quality pints at their local pub, and licensees receiving a high-quality level of service.

“The problem today is that the playing field is not level and, in such a dynamic market, the system risks becoming unsustainable. We’re making changes to ensure that the pub industry continues to thrive.”

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