Trade Panel Rules Against Alberta Beer Mark-Up & Rebate Structure, Government Reviewing Options

CALGARY, AB – The government of Alberta is currently reviewing its options in the wake of a decision that its current mark-up and rebate structure for small breweries is in violation of inter-provincial trade rules.

Last Friday, a three-person panel representing the Agreement on Internal Trade ruled in favour of beer importer Artisan Ales who had filed a complaint over the beer markup structure implemented in Alberta in October 2015. The policy featured a graduated markup for breweries in the New West Partnership region (British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan) that ranged from 10 cents to $1.25 per litre depending on the size of the brewery, while beer from outside of the region was subject to the $1.25 per litre rate regardless of brewery size.

The government subsequently changed the policy in July 2016, and implemented a standardized rate of $1.25 per litre for all beer sold in the province, regardless of the size or location of the brewery. However, this was quickly followed by the introduction a rebate program for Alberta’s small brewers that would essentially reduce their rates back to those in the previous structure.

In a 2-1 decision, the panel ruled that the government has six months to either repeal or amend the grant program. The government has the option to appeal the ruling, and a spokesman for Alberta Finance Minister Joe Ceci says that he is “reviewing the decision and will have more to say in the coming days.”

For more details, see coverage at Global News, CBC News, and On Beer.

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