The SABMiller subsidiary is being forced to change the brands label

The SABMiller subsidiary is being forced to change the brand's label

Australia's consumer watchdog has fined Carlton & United Breweries (CUB) AUD20,400 (US$18,898) for misleading consumers over the origin of one of its craft-like brands and warned other brewers over the practice. 

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) said today (29 April) it has accepted an acknowledgement from the SABMiller subsidiary that the labelling on its Byron Bay Pale Lager may have been “misleading”. CUB has also agreed to stop distribution of the product in its current format. 

The brand's label shows a lighthouse and a map indicating the location of the Byron Bay Brewing Company. However, the beer is brewed by CUB at its Warnervale brewery, around 630km from Byron Bay, the ACCC noted. 

“Many small brewers cater to consumers who prefer to support small, niche businesses,” said ACCC chairman Rod Sims. “When large companies portray themselves as small businesses, it undermines the unique selling point that such small businesses depend upon, and it misleads consumers.” 

Sims added: “The ACCC will be writing to other participants putting them on notice of this matter in order to ensure that marketing and labelling in the beer market appropriately reflects where and by whom beer is brewed.”

CUB has also agreed to place corrections on its website and in trade publications, and it will also provide corrective notices for retailers to display at point-of-sale, the ACCC said. 

In an emailed response to just-drinks today, CUB said: “CUB treats its commitments to compliance with the law seriously; we had no intention to mislead. We have agreed to take a number of steps to address the ACCC’s concerns.

“The labelling has been revised to better disclose the third party contracting relationship between the Byron Bay Brewing Company and CUB." 

Craft brewers in the US have also questioned similar practices by big breweries, which fail to list the name of the parent company on craft-like brands. In an exclusive interview with just-drinks last month, Sierra Nevada founder Ken Grossman called for more transparency from big brewers, branding it an "ethical" issue