On Friday, January 28, the Brewers Association (BA) submitted comments to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to document the challenges craft brewers have faced due to recent supply chain disruptions.
The FTC initiated the study in November in order to better understand the multiple supply chain issues now affecting the economy, with a focus on issues within the jurisdiction of the agency (for example, competition policy). While FTC’s supply chain study does not have a specific regulatory end goal, we hope the agency will document craft brewers’ struggles in reporting its findings and, where necessary, adjust policies to minimize further disruptions in the future.
Our comments summarize craft brewing’s supply chain challenges during the pandemic, with sections on the aluminum can shortage, the CO2 shortage, transportation challenges, and other issues like the tight supply for barley malt, glass bottles, and paperboard. Our comments also reinforce policy points made more directly elsewhere, including that: (1) prior failures at antitrust enforcement led to dangerously concentrated markets; (2) practices like “sponsorships” act as slotting fees in violation of federal law; and (3) category captaincy often violates federal law and should be addressed.