Seeing Red: beer industry says jobs will go and beer prices increased after Government decision to change label

A bureaucratic decision to change alcoholic warning labels could result in the loss of over 600 breweries across the country – 3,000 Australian jobs gone, bringing the beer industry to its knees.

The independent beer industry is already reeling from a tough year following the economic impacts of COVID-19, bushfires, and floods.

Today, the Government decided to effectively bill independent breweries around the country $113 million dollars so the Government can change colours on a new warning label.

The Independent Brewers Association says while they wholeheartedly support the new pregnancy warning label, the decision to mandate excessive printing costs is bureaucracy gone mad.

“This decision is one of the worst examples of over-regulation in recent memory”, said Peter Philip, Chairman of the IBA and founder of Wayward Brewing in Camperdown Sydney.

“We support mandatory labelling, but we’re extremely disappointed that certain Ministers have chosen to ignore the pleas of indie brewers across the country.

“By deviating from the usual requirements for contrast colours in favour of a strict redblack-white colour scheme, 600 small brewers are under threat including the thousands who work for them.

“It will absolutely result in people losing their jobs and the cost of independent beer to go up.”

“This will be devastating to small breweries at a time when we are just starting to recover from COVID-19 and are looking down the barrel of a global recession.

At today’s Food Forum, Ministers from Australia and New Zealand voted in favour of a prescribed colour scheme for pregnancy labelling that will impose unnecessary, immediate and ongoing costs on brewers.

The colour scheme will require brewers to change their packaging due to the strict colour scheme that is being mandated rather than just using contrasting colours already being used on labels.

The IBA has estimated the cost of implementation to exceed $113 million over the next ten years including $44 million in one-off costs.

This is equivalent to the salaries of over 1600 people employed by small brewers across Australia.

“Even poison labels don’t need to use specific colours, is beer really riskier than arsenic?”

The IBA calls on the Government to provide for an impactful yet affordable contrast label similar to all other food and beverage warnings.

“It is deeply disappointing that this sensible and balanced proposal did not enjoy the support of all States and Territories and indie beer loving consumers should rightly hold these politicians to account in the next election for the loss of their local indie brewery,” Mr Philip said.

The Independent Brewers Association represents over 600 small and medium business in every state and territory across Australia with most members located in regional areas. 

Indie brewers directly employ over 3,000 people and support the employment of more than 25,000 in related industries of agriculture, logistics, hospitality, manufacturing, and services.

For media enquiries please contact:

Peter Philip, Chairman

Phone: 0416 101 265


Kylie Lethbridge - General Manager

Phone: 0490 818 717