Finnish alcohol monopoly Alko has made the decision to allow microbreweries to offer up their products to local, individual Alko shops starting in January. Beers from smaller breweries no longer need to be available nationwide.
Microbrewers may soon put their local products on sale in 1—10 different Alko shops, either physically on the shelves or as part of shop catalogues that can be used to order the craft beers in by customer request. Microbreweries need to pay a fee of 100 euros before their products can be added to Alko’s lists.
Collaboration problematic in the past
Microbrewers themselves report mixed feelings about the new arrangement. The policy change means that beers with more than 4.7 percent alcohol content will be sold in numerous new outlets, but entrepreneur Risto Hallman from the Alahovi Vineyard says that previous troubles with Alko collaborations have soured his outlook on the efficacy of the new policy.
Brewer Mika Silajärvi from the Hiisi Brewery intends to send in his own products to hopefully be picked up by Alko.
”We’re about as content with this reform as we can expect to be in a monopoly,” Silajärvi says. “All concessions are good ones at this point.”
Direct sales still microbrewers’ dream
Mika Heikkinen, chair for the Finnish Microbreweries’ Association and entrepreneur for the Beer Hunter’s brewery, says he hopes the new sales policy will lead to local craft beers being found more readily in Alko’s stock. He says the number one dream of every microbrewer, however, is to be allowed to sell their own products at their own locations.
“I hope this isn’t just some sort of false atonement on the government’s part, with direct sales still being prohibited,” Heikkinen says. “I hope not.”
Alko’s selection has featured about 60 different Finnish craft beers, putting the shelf-space share of microbreweries at about six percent. The alcohol monopoly has not determined a growth target for the sale of local beers.
In the last few years Alko has taken on a special batch of various types of domestic craft beers every February.