Gray and Parallel Marketed Beer
What is gray-marketed beer?
Broadly speaking, gray-marketed beers are beers brought to and sold in Hong Kong that are not bought directly from the breweries or their official representatives. (For example, it is beer purchased at a wholesale club, then shipped overseas and sold in a market without the brewery’s knowledge.)
The Craft Beer Association of Hong Kong is firmly against this practice, for a number of reasons:
- Breweries have standards for shipping, storage and shelf life, and beers that are gray-marketed do not adhere to these requirements. Breweries set these standards so the consumers know they will be getting great-tasting beers.
- In addition, some beers are never meant to travel long distances, so breweries choose not to export them at all.
- Breweries have spent years building their brands and setting high standards, and that is why so many have a great reputation among beer drinkers.
- However, if a beer is gray-marketed and not kept up to those high standards, everyone suffers: The brewery suffers a loss to its reputation, and the consumer gets a beer that is but a faint shadow of how it should taste. They either question why they loved the beer before, or, upon first sip, why others have rated it so highly.
- This also includes parallel importing, where a retailer, bar, restaurant or other establishment does not buy beer that is already available in Hong Kong from the local importer that abides by the brewery’s standards. Instead parallel importers buy the beers overseas and then ships, stores and sells the beers in Hong Kong whatever way they choose, regardless of standards set by the brewery.
- Hong Kong is a young market when it comes to craft beer. If we all adhere to the best standards and treat craft beer with the care that breweries expect, more and more of the breweries that we love and want to see here will sell in Hong Kong.
- Because of all this, CBAHK takes a strict stance against gray-marketing beers and refuses to be part of it. The consumer benefits when the beer they drink is just as the brewery intended it to be.
- In addition, CBAHK members realize that beer is a perishable beverage and will abide by the best-by dates set on beers.
- CBAHK members refuse to import, distribute or sell gray-marketed or after-date beers, and we encourage consumers not to buy them. How to tell? Purchase a beer from a CBAHK member, including these: