Competition in the U.S. beer market thrives because of a robust system of open and independent distribution, rooted in effective regulation. This system – comprised of brewers/importers and retailers – provides access to market for all brands and generates vast choice for consumers.
The more than 140,000 men and women in the beer distribution industy help build brands; generate unprecedented consumer choice; and contribute to local and national economies.
The Senate Antitrust Subcommittee and the Department of Justice (DOJ) conducted a comprehensive review of the American beer industry and independent beer distribution system related to the Anheuser-Busch InBev acquisition of SABMiller.
After the review, the DOJ issued a proposed final judgment that maintained the strength and integrity of the independent beer distribution system, saying:
The settlement preserves the ability of smaller brewers to compete… by protecting their access to important distribution networks. And independent distributors… will have the freedom to sell and promote the variety of beers that many Americans drink.
The DOJ's action helps ensure that the U.S. market can remain a "consumer pull" market through independent distribution, where consumer demand is what determines product choice and variety, and to prevent a "supplier push" model where consumer choice is reduced.
The Boston Consulting Group has said the current system of beer distribution in the U.S. is “open, freely competitive, and driven by consumer choice.” That’s because the independent distribution system reduces barriers to market for all brewers, creates a competitive playing field for all brewers, fosters innovative new products and keeps pricing competitive for consumers. Because of the open and independent system of beer distribution:
The winner is the American consumer who can choose from thousands of brands from around the country and from around the world.
Independent beer distributors deliver direct economic benefit to their communities. They provide 135,000 quality jobs with great benefits. They add $70 billion to the nation’s gross domestic product and contribute nearly $13 billion to the federal, state and local tax bases; and they indirectly contribute nearly $11 billion in federal, state and local alcohol excise and consumption taxes. Additionally, beer distributors make significant contributions to local charitable, civic and philanthropic organizations each year.