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Figuring out the push for beer excise reform

Independent Brewers Association report. The Sip Beer

Australia's small craft breweries have begun their push for government assistance at all levels with the release today of an economic outlook into the fast-growing artisanal beer industry.

Following the style of the US Brewers Association, the local independent beer makers body has finally got an accurate snapshot of the value, trends and problems of the 420 producers across the country.

The national economic report prepared for the Independent Brewers Association is all about the numbers.

And the key figures are -

*$740 million in economic output a year.

*65% of small and independent businesses are based outside capital cities.

*The industry produced 59 million litres of beer in 2015/16 generating $280 million in revenue.

*It employs more than 2400 full time equivalent workers. That is 73% of all employment in the brewing industry in Australia. And those workers are paid approximately $90 million in wages.

*It supports a further 17,210 FTE positions in the wider economy.

*It generated $740 million in economic output in 2015/16.

So what does it all mean for the members of the recently reformed Independent Brewers Association, who make up around 3% of Australia's beer production?

The Sip Beer Laboratory

Well this is all about providing proof to legislators on the growth of smaller craft beer players - and how a little help from those that make the laws could benefit the industry and its participants.

Armed with a suitcase of data, let the lobbying begin.

Gold Coast brewery owner Peta Fielding recently stepped down from the association after it decided to exclude craft breweries who were owned by multi-national interests.

However, Fielding helped commission the report and was excited about the results.

“We spend so much time working to build our own businesses that it is nice to take a moment to celebrate our collective success,” she said.

Fielding is the co-owner of Burleigh Brewing Co in Burleigh Heads, which has been running since 2007 and employs 40 people.

“The industry’s success has not come easily, given the burdensome excise regime imposed on small brewers. Imagine what could be possible if, similar to wineries, small brewers enjoyed excise relief designed to support the development of the industry as a whole?” asked Mrs Fielding.

“Craft brewers pay approximately 25% of their total revenue as excise – a tax that is imposed as soon as the beer leaves the brewery, whether the brewer has been paid for it at that point or not.

“Excise relief would enable small brewers to invest in building their capacity and capability

and generate more employment opportunities."

The report follows the motion in Federal Parliament last month when ALP's Anthony Albanese called for more support for the craft brewing industry. It received bipartisan support.

Expect plenty of quoting the report as the influencing of politicians begin in the hope of some movement in legislative restrictions before next year's Federal Budget.

The report was released on the US Independence Day. The association has subsequently launched Australian Independent Brewers Day to mark the launch of a campaign to ask the Federal Government for a fairer tax system.

“We applaud the foresight of those politicians who have recently been speaking out in support of independent breweries,” said Independent Brewers Association chairman Ben Kooyman.

“What we need now is action by the Government to give this growing manufacturing industry a fair go.”

The Sip launched its Go Easy On The Excise campaign last month.

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