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New alcohol retail rules threaten micro-breweries

TT/The Local · 22 Jul 2014, 08:30

Published: 22 Jul 2014 08:30 GMT+02:00

On September 1st Systembolaget will implement a new system where micro brewers will have to pay to ship their range to a main warehouse in Örebro, central Sweden.

At present the small brewers deliver and sell their drinks to the three closest Sytembolaget stores near them. Under the new system there is an obligation for the products to be on the shelves of up to 10 stores provided, within a large radius, if there is a demand.

The move has been pushed through by Systembolaget who are eager for popular micro-brewed beers to get a wider distribution. But the brewers themselves are concerned.

"At first I thought this would benefit us as we are in a big city near several Systembolaget stores. But that doesn't seem to be the case, I've heard that many micro-breweries have lost out instead," Niklas Jakobson, head of marketing of the Sthlm Brewing Co told the TT news agency.

Sales of micro-brewed beer have rocketed in recent years with many Swedes eager to sample something other than a cheap 'stor stark' (basically a pint of house beer) when having a drink. The state controlled liquor store is eager for the drinks to reach a larger audience.

"We are doing this to ensure a quality range of products, make taste descriptions and offer sample tastings for writers," Lennart Agén, press manager for Systembolaget told TT.

The micro-brewers believe the new rules will hit them in the pocket as the delivery costs are expected to be high.

"It is just too expensive to have to deliver every week irrespective of how few parcels it refers to," added Jacobson.

Some brewers have reported that the new rules will mean that they are going to be in fewer stores instead due to the estimate system set to be imposed.

Systembolaget has already conceded that they could have handled the communication about the new rules better. Lennart Agén said that the move won't make financial sense for some brewers but ultimately they would have to decide whether to pay the shipping costs to Örebro. 

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