A third of the beer produced by Aass is destined for others. – The head of the brewery says that the best we do is from an outsider.
– It is clear that we are competing against our own brands, but the competition is there anyway, says Christian As, director of the fifth generation of Norway’s oldest brewery.
Industry Minister Jan Christian Pfister (AP) is considering action against grocery chains’ (EMV) brands. Primarily, he commissioned an investigation into what kind of effects this phenomenon has on competition in the industry.
It is usually evident when talking about EMV among the major food and beverage manufacturers. Orkla believes that regulation should be implemented as quickly as possible. The owner of Guild Nortura is also asking for brakes.
But the giant groups are not supported by Christian AS V Drammen. The brewery manager says he realizes it is indecent to be challenged, but the responsibility to be attractive to the consumer rests with them as suppliers.
– You have to win your customers every day. You can’t attack someone because they are good.
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Aass has been producing for EMV for nearly 20 years. This means that one or more grocery players have paid a brewery to make a beer for them that is sold in cans with an entirely different name.
Christian As can’t say exactly what their agreements entail. He says they have agreements with players big and small – such as Norgesgruppen-owned Unil, 7 Fjell, Himkok and Røros Bryggeri – but the content of the agreements is confidential.
Ace says there are several reasons they choose to produce beer for others. Among other things, it is related to the use of productive capacity, which in turn is linked to sustainability.
– If we had not taken this production, someone else would have done it. So it’s better done by us than someone from the outside, he says.
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Lots of EMV
However, there can be too much of a good thing, Aass admits. Some time ago, nearly 60 percent of the beer produced by Aass Brewery went to brands other than its own.
Then they decided to take action.
– There was no brand for us. So we said to ourselves “Now we have to work hard with our own brand”. We were able to do that, and now it’s about 30 percent. Provides better balance.
Competition with EMV, which are often products that challenge established brands on price, Aass lives well with it.
– He puts pressure on us for efficiency and makes us better, he says.
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He wants the original tag
What kind of action Vestre will take, if it finds EMV is a problem in the grocery industry, has not been addressed by the Industry Minister.
SV deputy leader Torgir Knag Vilksens went to great lengths and argued for a real ban. Aass thinks this is a bad idea.
– Then you start to limit free competition, which is not smart. If we get an EMV ban, it will probably only lead to foreign players producing custom brands for store chains. It will not be good for the Norwegian industry.
Norwegian identity is central to Aass. The country’s oldest brewery is also Norway’s largest owned brewery. The two largest players in the Norwegian market, Ringnes and Hansa Borg, are owned by Denmark.
Christian AS is interested in evolution. Since labor, tax, and general cost levels are often lower in other countries, he fears for his long-term competitiveness.
– International groups hiding behind Norwegian brands will outpace the actors who produce and tax Norway entirely, and it is difficult for the consumer to catch up with the development, he says.
This is why the brewery’s director is now advocating the designation of origin.
When it comes to beer, it is almost impossible for the consumer to make an informed decision, since there is really no requirement to name where the product was produced. We want this to change. In the same way that Norwegian clothing brands are clearly labeled with the country of production, we think the same should apply to beer. This gives beer brewed and bottled in Norway a chance to compete against international groups – through the ability for consumers to make informed choices.
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