Remember when industry meant, you know, making things. I was reminded of that this morning when I came across this article about the effect of mandatory third party wholesaling on Alabama's wineries and got stuck on the word "industry":
“When you put three hands in it, there’s nothing left,” she said of the state’s three-tier system involving producers, distributors and retailers. “We have restaurants that want to carry our wine but can’t buy it, and we can’t distribute it.” The ABC Board protects the three-tier system that allows control of alcoholic beverages, considered a controlled substance. The vintners believe if they’re allowed to distribute a few thousand cases of wine each year, the big wineries that distribute hundreds of thousands of cases will ask to be relieved of the middle man. And that could destroy a big industry and possibly the ABC Board that regulates the system.
For me, there is a simple rule. If you need your role in an economy mandated by law, you are not an industry. You are a courtier, a favoured friend, a pampered oligopolist. But you are not really an "industry" because of the law were changed, the middle tier of the booze trade would erode and fade as fast as the value of a lapsed copyright. Here in Ontario we have a one to two tier system in beer. For big macro beer, the beer is sold by a retail system owned by the big brewers themselves. Most craft is either sold direct to retail by the brewers or sold off shelves through the LCBO system, the government owned booze vendor which is both wholesaler and retainer. There are agents but, as I understand it, that is optional and earn their keep though provisions of efficiencies and special knowledge.
All booze, including beer, naturally forms a multi-layered economy. Coopers and keg manufacturers, bottle and cap makers are as necessary a part of the system as are the good folk who peak into the mash tun and determine when its done. Each pays their way. But mandatory staging through a distribution system? It's skimming. Whether by the obligatory contract or by committee imposition, the market is skewed by the involuntary payment to a stranger to the actual transaction. All of which is at the expense of you, the consumer.