My shout

Why SIBA is needed now, more than ever

By James Calder

- Last updated on GMT

Trouble brewing: 'what’s become crystal clear is that SIBA is the only organisation fighting for the UK’s small independent craft brewers' says SIBA chief executive James Calder
Trouble brewing: 'what’s become crystal clear is that SIBA is the only organisation fighting for the UK’s small independent craft brewers' says SIBA chief executive James Calder
Cask, keg, can and bottle; it doesn’t matter. The important things are quality, independence and the people behind the beer, according to SIBA (the Society of Independent Brewers) chief executive, James Calder.

I’ve been at the helm of SIBA for a couple of months now. What’s become crystal clear is that SIBA is the only organisation fighting for the UK’s small independent craft brewers. And an effective SIBA is needed now – more than ever.

Small independent brewers are under increasing pressures. From global buyouts, to brands with international level marketing budgets masquerading as ‘craft’ beers, to the continuing inability of brewers to access the retailers that consumers spend their money in.

On the subject of Small Breweries’ Relief (SBR), SIBA is the only organisation fighting for positive reform. We’re the only organisation talking to the highest levels in Government, arguing that no brewer should lose any relief. SBR at current levels is vital to the future of craft brewing, with the overwhelming majority of brewers in support of the protection and enhancement of SBR.

On access to market, SIBA is arguing for ethical, flexible pricing allowing brewers to make a good margin on every beer they sell. SIBA has the ‘assured seal’ – a mark that can be attached to pump clips or included on cans and bottles to differentiate our beer from that of the globals; as an authentic, British, independent product.

What’s also become clear is that SIBA needs to change to be successful. We need to work harder to convince all brewers that we’re on the right sides of the arguments. We’ve just announced what we’re calling ‘Delivering for Brewers’ – a series of new benefits, tools and resources that are available to all SIBA members. We’ve already launched a comprehensive labelling guide, free packs of orange cask stickers to prevent illegal uplift and making all our brewery health and safety tools free to use.

My message for all brewers, SIBA members or not is a simple one; SIBA exists to help. SIBA should be run for you, with you. We’re here to fight on your behalf, deliver real benefits to your business and help sell your amazing beer at a fair price. We’re on your side.

We’re stronger as an industry if we work together. We’ve spent a lot of time over the past few years arguing among ourselves about the definition of small, of craft and of what it means to be independent. SIBA has made some mistakes, too. Now is the time for all small independent brewers to rally, to get involved and for SIBA to work harder to win all everyone round. We have a lot more in common, and can achieve more if we work, and fight, together.

Cask, keg, can and bottle; it doesn’t matter. The important things are quality, independence and the people behind the beer.

Related topics: Beer

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