The Dutch hospitality industry body Horeca Nederland is taking the four big beer firms – Heineken, Grolsch, Bavaria and AB Inbev – to court for cartel forming.
The organisation wants the court to rule the brewing giants have operated as a cartel, clearing the way for bar and cafe owners to demand compensation through the Dutch legal system.
The European Commission said in 2007 the Dutch brewers were part of a cartel between 1996 and 1999. Horeca Nederland says the relationship with brewers is still ‘unequal and unhealthy’ and talks with the beer firms have failed to generate results.
‘The brewers do nothing and we have had enough,’ the organisation’s director Lodewijk van der Grinten said in a statement.
The organisation says the brewing groups still have a stranglehold on cafes and bars, which ultimately leads to customers footing the bill.
An investigation by the organisation last year showed that at least 75% of cafes are ‘attached’ to their beer provider through loans, guarantees, equipment or rental of the premises.
Cafe and bar owners also want more transparency in the market. ‘That means brewers should no longer operate as financier or landlord,’ Van der Grinten said. ‘And certainly that there are limits to how long you are tied to a contract with a particular brewer, if you rent a property from them.’