It has been both a hilarious as well as a glorious week for beer in the Netherlands, and thus the world. Midweek news hit us on ABInBev being accused of foul play on its former Home Turf, Belgium, which was followed of news that Heineken was quarreling with Jumbo, Holland’s second-largest supermarket. The weekend saw the first edition of Oedipus International Beer Festival which was a smash-hit success – no quarrelling of any kind, let alone foul play. Consumers were the biggest winners!
The Financial Times reported on a probe started by the EU on ‘potentially illegal beer practices’ in Belgium. It boils down to ABInBev allegedly tries to forbid import into Belgium of its own brands – who then suddenly turn out way cheaper. Imagine your Leffe or Hoegaarden being brewed around the corner, costing you Euro x in your local supermarket. If that supermarket buys from someone outside Belgium, you would only have to pay Euro x-y, making your beer much more affordable (let’s not talk flavor here). The pricing gap is big enough to make the enterprise worthwhile and now ABInBev, the brewing Diplodocus Giganticus it is, is said to try and put a stop to it – which the EU will then try to prevent, in turn. Bottom line of story: ABInBev doesn’t care much about the product it makes but only about the bottom line. It cares not for its customers but considers them the cannon fodder amongst beer consumers.
Then Jumbo poked Heineken in the eye and the customer in the side by suggesting Heineken is willfully shortening them on deliveries with the aim of forcing Jumbo not to discount too much and too often. Heineken plays dumb, stating both parties only recently renewed their agreement and so production needs to be stepped up again in order to fulfill orders.
No consumer loses here because Heineken is always being discounted somewhere anyway, and Jumbo has plenty of other packagings of Heineken to offer. It only goes to proof that beer is sold too cheap in Retail and consequently too expensive in on-trade – and that the brewery doesn’t care too much about those Horeca consumers. But, fear not, Heineken’s bottom line will be just mighty fine in 2016!
The best beer news though was Oediupus’ first International Beer Festival. Blessed by sunshine and smiling brewers, some thousands of Beerlovers gathered in Amsterdam to enjoy brews by De Molen, Oersoep, Buddelship, Lervig, BrewDog, Cascade Brewing, Dupont, Boon, Commons, Stillwater and Stone – to name a few. Great food was available in abundance – notably some awesome hotdogs by Brandt&Levie. The Oedipus core beers were brought to life by models, depicting Gaia, Mama, Slomo and Mannenliefde. Volunteers manning the ticket and token sales were the best EVER. And the beers, some European new releases included, were affordable, flavorful, creative and brewed with passion. No quarreling. No dirty games. The consumers loved it: small brewers and their beers won. See you there next year!