The article in today’s One Article got me thinking about something.
Here is a fun little fact that many don’t know about how grocery stores work, at least here in NC. Let me back up. Retail store shelf space is laid out in these things called planograms. They are just as they sound: the plan of how each store is laid out. It is not just what departments are where in each store, but what products and specific brands are placed where on each shelf. Most large retail companies either have internal groups that handle it or they farm it out to companies that specialize in planograms.
That brings us back to grocery stores and their beer/wine set ups. These planograms, at least the beer planograms are done by one of the two big beer companies you are thinking about as soon as I said big beer companies. There is input from the grocery store chain and some chains are starting to put all planograms in house, however still with input from the big beer companies. By and large however the big beer companies decide how much shelf space everybody gets. Now, the shelf space is mostly divided up by distributor with the distributors of ABI and MillerCoors brands getting the bulk. Then it is further divided among their “craft” brands and then finally any craft brands and self-distributed beers.
Now, whereas your frozen pizza shelf placements are mandated by corporate headquarters and stocked by the store, beer and wine are stocked by the distributor. So, while the main beer sets are set by the planogram and stocked by a distributor, the smaller craft brands are picked at the store level and stocked by whoever distributes that beer. The grocery store staff doesn’t touch beer or wine. That puts smaller brewers at a disadvantage. All the store manager wants to see is full shelf space, they don’t care what is in that shelf location as long as it isn’t empty. The big distributors that handle the big brewers have sales reps who all they do is work the off-premise accounts like grocery stores ordering and policing their shelf space. A small brewery self-distributing doesn’t usually have enough people to do that even just for local grocery stores.
That is why all these new breweries are competing with each other for shelf space in places where most beer is sold more than they are competing with the big beer companies.
When institutional racism is mentioned, people believe it means institutions are actively discriminating against people of color, women, or gays/lesbians. It usually means the institution was set up in a way to often unintentionally benefit the majority group.
Because alcohol laws differ from jurisdiction to jurisdiction even within a county, it was easier for grocery store chains to let the big beer companies and distributors create their beer sets. When there were fewer than 200 breweries that made sense. AB gets this Miller gets this and then whatever weird German stuff that makes it over can go here and will put malt liquor and 40s over here for black folks.
Many of the beer and alcohol laws that govern us to this day were written at the same time those decisions were made. Now, the world done changed and those who benefit the most from the way the things were always done and the way laws are written will not give up those advantages without a fight. Even if that fight is probably doomed.