Can beer companies learn to play nice?

At times, it seems that only pirates would be comfortable in the world of beer sales. It’s a cut-throat, competitive marketplace, in which the major breweries duke it out from the moment a bottle leaves on the delivery truck to the time it arrives on store shelves and in refrigerated cases.

But is the cost of competing distribution networks ultimately hurting beer makers? Yes, says Jim Koch, chairman of Boston Beer Company, the makers of Samuel Adams. Koch talked to The Wall Street Journal recently about how distributors could cut $2.5 billion in costs from the supply chain by removing “deliberate inefficiences.”

Koch championed the idea of competitors sharing distribution services, such as warehouse space and delivery routes, in his speech at the National Beer Wholesalers’ annual convention. Even if the idea of shared space seems unlikely — try to imagine Schlafly and Boulevard arriving on the same truck — something has to give in a marketplace with 3,000 beer distributors.

Categories: Dining, Food & Drink