Breweries reward student associations for more alcohol use: report

While student associations like Vindicat in Groningen made agreements to reduce excessive alcohol use among its members, doing so in practice will prove to be difficult. Because student associations are financially rewarded by beer breweries and other alcohol providers for selling more alcohol to their members, RTV Noord reports based on its own research.

Student associations with their own bar are also considered a catering company. And that means that beer breweries financially encourage associations to sell as much beer as possible. This happens through the so called hectoliter bonus - the more beer you sell, the higher discount you get when purchasing from your supplier. According to the broadcaster, the amounts the discounts can run up to tens of thousands of euros per year - money that student associations often need to complete their budget. 

Figures in the broadcaster's possession show that one student association in Groningen receives more than 45 thousand euros a year in hectoliter bonuses on a purchase of 60 thousand euros. That means that the association ultimately pays only 15 thousand euros for the beer sold in its bar. 

"Beer brewers do this because student associations are a very interesting target group", Tom van Erven Dorens, a 'beer broker' who has many years of experience with beer contracts, said to RT Noord. "Students drink a lot of beer and if students are familiar with a beer brand, they are more likely to drink this brand for the rest of their lives." 

According to Van Erven Dorens, Vindicat is one of the most popular targets for breweries in the Netherlands. "I think Vindicat has a deal where maybe it gets money in addition to the beer. To be on tap there. It has also become a bit of a competition among brewers, who gets Vindicat."

Vindicat director Floris Hamann did not want to comment to the broadcaster. "We definitely pay for our beer. But how much that is, I cannot say."

The beer brewers also did not want to comment about the discounts they give. "About commercial agreements and contracts we are not allowed to make any statements with third parties", Esther de Vilder from Swinkels Family Brewers said to the broadcaster. A Heineken spokesperson said: "Competitively sensitive information is never shared with third parties."