Friday 17 October 2008

Majority of the drinks industry - The Portman Group

The reader may well be aware of the story about a small brewery in the Orkney's who has fallen foul of The Portman Group because they have a strong beer called Skull Splitter.

If not here are some links:

portman group wields-axe
portman group crackdown
clarification on portman group nonsense

I particularly like the satirical tone of the second one above. Well done Roger.

I recently decided to send an email to David Poley, Chief Executive of The Portman Group as I felt that the Portman group should have no influence over small breweries like the Sinclair Group. More importantly, there is, rightly or wrongly, a culture of giving micro brewed beers silly names, which sometimes might be slightly risque and even sometimes offensive. I believe that this is part of our freedoms and should not be inhibited.

I did get a considered reply which I thought was interesting. Most of it explains the procedure which does allow the brewer to put the case for the possibility of the objection not to be upheld.

What I found interesting is that the procedure does not allow for support of the name from anybody else. I was very kindly thanked for my communications and assured that my contribution was noted. I was also politely told that they really will not consider my opinion.

The most import thing though is the attitude that they have towards the drinks industry:

(The Portman Group) "has the support of over 130 companies representing the overwhelming majority of those involved in the production and sale of alcoholic drinks."

Now how many independent breweries are there in the country? Well I can't find out right now but SIBA has 450 members. I know there are other breweries, like me, that are not members of SIBA. How many independent pubs are there? I don't know but there are 4,500 in the GBG, I know some of these will be owned by breweries etc and part of chains but there are many that are not in the GBG that are independent free houses. There are also independent shops, wholesalers etc.

So if we say there are 5000 independent businesses involved in the production, sale and distribution of alcohol then The Portman Groups assertion that they represent the overwhelming majority of those involved in the production and sale of alcohol is just false.

They may however represent the vast majority of the revenue taken, but that is a different matter.

If you agree with me, and you are welcome to not agree, then please email The Portman Group I am suspicious that they are looking after the big boys, who are the ones that make up The Group and I am certain they are scared of the resurgence of real ale.

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