Belgium/Netherlands: Trappist monks upset about Dutch supermarket chain

The monks of Trappist Saint Sixtus abbey in Westvleteren in the province of West Flanders, Belgium. are upset about Dutch supermarket chain Jan Linders because it sold their beer at unethical high prices without their knowledge. Under the abbey’s rules, “the Trappists of Westvleteren do not pursue profit maximization, they only produce as much beer as is necessary to provide for their livelihood. All the profits made go to the abbey charity,” said a spokesman for the abbey. “A price of nearly €10 per bottle goes against the ethical standards and values that the monks face,” he explained further.

The supermarket chain sold within hours three types of the renowned beer in 300 crates of 24 bottles each. Despite the price, which was 5 times higher than the one charged by the monks, customers were queueing outside the supermarkets to get a maximum of two bottles, which were allowed to buy at a time.

Gineke Wilms, the company’s marketing & communications manager, said: “The beer was purchased through a number of links, which is why the price was this amount. We emphasized to the abbey that we had really good intentions. We respect the exclusivity of beer enormously.”

Westvleteren is one of the twelve active Trappist breweries in the world. Six of them are located in Belgium, two in the Netherlands and one in Austria, USA, Italy and UK each. Five of the latter have opened in the past five years in the wake of the craft beer movement and the resurgence in Trappist brewing. Best known are the “traditional” Belgium Trappist breweries of Rochefort, Westmalle, Westvleteren, Chimay and Orval, with most of them are hundreds of years old. (, 25.10.2017)

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