The Canadian Craft Brewers Association is painting a bleak picture for the craft beer industry unless COVID-19 restrictions are eased and relief is made available. According to a recent survey conducted by the CCBA, more than 60% of Canadian craft breweries could go out of business if pandemic restrictions last another three months.
The survey—conducted April 15-21, 2020—polled more than 300 of the country’s 1,100-plus craft breweries and brewpubs and found 61% only had cash reserves to last another three months or less, after which they would likely become insolvent. Additionally, 44% of breweries polled said they’ve seen their sales cut in half or more since the COVID-19 restrictions started in March, while 80% of breweries have experienced a drop in sales of 10% or more.
“In the last 10 years, approximately 1,000 craft breweries and brewpubs have opened across the country,” said CCBA executive director Rick Dalmazzi. “During that same timeframe, no other business sector that we know of has invested billions of dollars to establish new manufacturing facilities in hundreds of locations in every province and territory in Canada, many of them small communities.”
However, COVID-19 has wiped out that growth and is jeopardizing the future of the industry.
“Even before COVID-19, most [craft breweries] were not yet profitable. Though overall revenues and market share continue to grow, the nature of a small manufacturing business is that it needs constant reinvestment, especially in the early years. What’s more, most craft beer businesses are actually three businesses: a manufacturing company, a licensed restaurant, and a retail store. For these reasons, the COVID-19 pandemic has been devastating to the Canadian craft beer community.”
The CCBA sent the findings of the survey to all Canadian members of parliament, asking MPs to consider additional relief for the craft beer industry. According to the survey, 38% of breweries were ineligible for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy in March.
“Please consider the contributions that craft breweries have made in your communities. Now they need your help,” Dalmazzi said in his letter to MPs. “We are asking that you support us so [craft breweries] can continue to deliver positive contributions to the economy and to the spirit of their communities, your communities.”
Last week Kelowna’s Boundary Brewing announced it would be closing for good, making it the first B.C. craft brewery to go out of business due to COVID-19. Owner Oliver Gläser predicts it will likely be the first of many, unless more is done to help the industry and restrictions are eased soon.
“Everything is in flux and nobody knows what is going to happen next,” he says. “And the government isn’t making it easy to [stay in business].”
You can do your part to support B.C. craft breweries and cideries by ordering beer to-go or having it delivered to home.
- The Spring 2020 issue of The Growler is out now! You can find B.C.’s favourite craft beer and cider guide at your local brewery, cidery, select private liquor stores, and on newsstands across the province.