Any craft in your craft beer?
In almost all industries there are certification processes to ensure that goods and services are of a high quality. Certification marks are applied to products or services that have been successfully assessed and certified due to meetings meeting the necessary requirements. This certification creates transparency in the market place which is important for both consumers and businesses.
The GREEN TAG certification mark, for example certifies that a product has a very high eco-health standard, whereas the FAIRTRADE certification mark focuses on improving labour and living conditions for farming communities and promoting a way of farming that doesn't harm either people or the environment.
The same principles, for applicable to registering an ordinary trade mark application, applies apply to registering a certification mark. As such, a certification mark must be capable of distinguishing in order to be registrable. An important point to note, however, is that a certification marks can’t be registered in the name of a person who carries on a trade in the goods or services in respect of which registration is sought.
Now where and how does craft beer fit into this scenario…? In the last few years, the craft beer industry has exploded and there are no signs of it slowing down any time soon. As a result, the larger commercial beer companies have been heavily affected by the market moving towards craft beer rather than sticking to the local lager. The larger players in the field have therefore been acquiring craft breweries to assure them a piece of the crafty pie.
However, a large number of craft breweries are not willing to “sell out”, wishing to remain true to their culture and customers. These craft breweries now have to compete against breweries who produce and promote craft beers but are as matter of fact craft breweries that have been acquired by commercial brewing giants.
Many “still true” craft breweries feel that it is necessary for consumers to be aware of these matters and for there to be complete transparency in the market place to prevent the term “craft beer” from being diluted in the near future.
In the USA, The Brewers Association for Small and Independent Craft Breweries has registered a certification mark which is a handy tool for enthusiasts to easily differentiate beer from craft brewers and from beer produced by other, non-craft companies. This is a great example of just how important a certification mark is and how it can save a product’s heritage and cultures.
It is surely only a matter of time before South Africa sees a similar certification process for craft beers to retain and protect the art of true craft beer.