Inducements of €50,000 are being used to skew the Irish on-trade beer market in favour of multinational brewers according to a report carried by The Irish Independent today. The claim has been made by representatives of the Independent Craft Brewers of Ireland, a representative body for the country’s microbreweries. As well as financial incentives to replace taps, the minuscule independent beer industry in Ireland is being harmed by “faux craft” brands designed to deceive consumers into mistakenly buying beer from the large producers in the belief that they’re small-brewery products, says ICBI representative and brewery owner Rick LeVert in the interview. Beer from the Republic of Ireland’s 70 independent microbrewers currently comprises 2.5% of the overall beer market. The major multinationals operating in the country are Diageo, Heineken, C&C and Molson Coors.
A spokesman for the Irish Brewers Association, which represents all of the multinationals save for C&C, responded in the article that he is not aware of any problem with incentivisation in the Irish beer market and that nothing has been reported to him by any brewer. In 2015 a complaint was lodged with Ireland’s Competition & Consumer Protection Commission by Ireland’s beer consumer organisation Beoir, requesting an investigation into Heineken’s incentivisation practices and their effect on consumer choice. The CCPC, too, ruled that there was insufficient evidence for the investigation to proceed. It seems that neither publicans nor breweries are willing to come forward with specific examples of unfair practices, and until such times as they do, no official investigation can take place.