TEXT OF INTERVIEW
Scott Jagow: Today is a big day for the beer industry. A lot of people rent kegs for their Fourth of July parties. The beer companies just hope they get the kegs back. Some people have been keeping them or stealing them so they can sell the kegs to scrap metal places. The price of metal has made this worth their while. Joining us now is Jeff Becker. He’s president of the Beer Institute, an industry trade group. Jeff, how big a problem is this?
Jeff Becker: Well right now we estimate we’re losing around 300,000 kegs a year and since kegs cost around $130 on average to buy, it’s obviously a very significant problem that reaches into the $40-$50 million range.
Jagow: Wow that is a lot of money. How are people getting ahold of these kegs?
Becker: Well you know there’s probably a very innocent side of this — college kids who forget to take them back — or you know the more serious problem, and that is people who are stealing them from either behind retail establishments or wholesale outlets and then taking them to scrap dealers and then getting the scrap value.
Jagow: But I would think it’s not that easy to steal a keg. I mean even when they’re empty they’re still pretty heavy.
Becker: I don’t disagree. This is something we’ve seen evolve over the last two years and you can imagine once we aggregated everything and found out the extent of the problem, obviously somebody out there is doing this wrong quite a bit.
Jagow: So how do you propose solving this?
Becker: Well there’s actually a few things we can do. One, many states are implementing legislation because of what’s a broader problem: people stealing bleachers from little league parks or slides form other parks and things like that and so there’s broader legislation that’s addressing the scrap industry that basically says ‘you need to know who owns this stuff before you take it.’ One of the other things that’s unique to us are keg deposit laws. That’s a disincentive for the final user or the thief if you will.
Jagow: As I was reading about this I was surprised to find out the July 4th is the biggest beer drinking day of the year. Ahead of St. Patrick’s Day!
Becker: Yeah, weather’s always had an influence on beer consumption. People tend to drink more beer when it’s warm than when it’s cold and so July 4th I think for the last 10, 15 years has been the leading holiday and it’s interesting because when it happens on a Wednesday, you know it’s probably not the best day of the week it could happen to for us.
Jagow: Oh I’m sure there’ll be plenty of beer drinking today anyway.
Becker: We’re sure as well and just hope that people remember to choose a designated driver or drink responsibly.
Jagow: Alright, Jeff Becker, president of the Beer Institute, thanks for joining us and happy Fourth.
Becker: Thanks, same to you.
Jagow: In Los Angeles, I’m Scott Jagow. Enjoy your holiday.
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