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Tamarron: Distributors Give Suppliers High Marks in Their Handling of Out-of-Code Kegs, Media Reallocation During Covid

2020 Tamarron Consulting Brewer Partnership Compass Overview

Beer Business Daily (by: Harry Schuhmacher)

Tamarron results are in, but we don’t have any big winners to single out this go ’round.

Nope, instead of conducting the typical survey, in which distributors rank suppliers on a variety of topics, Tamarron changed things up this year to “focus on supplier/brewer adaptation and execution during the Covid-19 era.”

The survey was conducted over June 2020, and received responses from 132 distributors, many of those being “top/mega distributors.” 

The questions to distribs focused on a “reduced set” of six key suppliers – Anheuser-Busch, Boston Beer, Constellation, Heineken USA, Molson Coors and Sierra Nevada – and asked them to rate the suppliers with each query a scale of “Consistently, Often, Sometimes, Rarely, Never” to “better identify the consistency with which brewer leadership, sales and supply chain teams demonstrate the desired business traits.”

We’re not going to dive into all the results, but we’ll bring you the highs and lows, and other interesting tidbits from the other side of the aisle (more on the supplier side in story below).

WHERE BREWERS HAVE BEEN CONSISTENT. The most consistent behavior seen from suppliers over the COVID era, according to distribs, were “policies for anticipated out-of-code on-premise kegs” – i.e. the suppliers have “clearly communicated policies for handling anticipated out-of-code kegs, including extended code dates on kegs, collecting out-of-code packages from on premise/venues, recommended decanting procedures, keg return logistics, etc.”

The survey notes that distributors also handed out favorable tallies to brewers for their management of “brewer organizational changes” as well as “marketing & media re-allocation” – “a nod to quick re-tooling of advertising & social media campaigns, messaging and spending,” per survey. 

WHERE THEY HAVE WORK TO DO. The “least consistent” behavior demonstrated by suppliers over the COVID time frame dealt with “enhancing revenue/offsetting losses” meaning there have been little “discussions to generate ideas to help distributors enhance revenue streams/margins and offset losses.”

Distributors also “looked less favorably upon brewers for their ability to ‘capitalize on E- commerce trends,’” according to the results.

Communication to distributors “remains a big opportunity/area of concern,” per results. Then “supply chain transparency, production and flexibility,” were listed as other opportunity areas for suppliers as well.

AND THE MOST FASCINATING FINDINGS. But perhaps, some of the most fascinating takeaways from this year’s survey came when Tamarron asked distributors about their various responses to COVID, and what kind of lasting damage they foresee to some of their on-premise accounts.

When asked about organizational changes in response to COVID…


  • A little over 80% (108 distribs) indicated that they re-purposed their on-premise team.
  • More than half (70 distribs) said they “implemented or increased usage of online ordering”
  • A little under a half (58 distribs) said they started “retail customer automate payments” 
  • A third (44 distribs) said they enforced “mandatory temperature checks”
  • And just under 20% (24 distribs) said they had to make a “reduction” to their workforce
Then when asked what percentage of their on-premise account base they expected to permanently close…
  • 40% of distributors said they expect less than 10% of their on-premise clients to close for good
  • 35% of distributors believed it to be somewhere in the 11%-20% range
  • 21% of distributors thought it could end up being between 21%-30%
  • And 4% of distributors anticipated more than 30% of their on-premise accounts closing