Covid 19 not only threatens to be one of the greatest health crises of recent times, but also the virus causing one of the most extensive social crises capable of curtailing the growth and good health of the beer sector globally.
Lockdown resulted in the closure of bars, pubs and important beer-related events where thousands of litres of beer flowed and kept the most independent sector in a state of constant growth. The situation caused by Covid and the slow recovery of the on-trade industry is creating problems for a large number of producers whose sales almost exclusively depended on the HORECA (hotel, restaurant and catering) channel.
The impact is estimated to be colossal in the US, where the business model for many craft beers depends on the sales from their own tap rooms. According to the Brewers Association, 60% of these small breweries will be obliged to close unless the virus situation settles down soon. Extrapolating this data, 5,000 of the 8,275 breweries in the US have seen their turnover reduce by more than 70% this year.
The situation in Europe is very similar to that of the US. Data shared by The Brewers of Europe association, based in Brussels, reflects the importance of the beer sector in the economy. For every position that is lost in a brewery, 16 positions are lost in the European economy.
According to the Spanish Association of Independent Craft Brewers (AECAI), in Spain, the craft sector is made up of breweries, stores and special premises generating around 3,400 direct jobs and an estimated 18,100 indirect jobs. The economic consequences of Covid in the sector are still unknown, but according to surveys, it is believed that 23% of current jobs will be left by the wayside, resulting in a loss of 5,000 positions across the sector and the closure of a large number of businesses.
The craft sector’s resilience and ability to adapt is something worthy of admiration and pride however. Many producers have shifted their stores online in record timing, with large increases in sales compared to previous years, and although these sales can in no way offset on-trade losses, everything points to this model staying around as the new channel in which to develop their commercial plans.
While the sector is negotiating State assistance, it is important that as consumers we know that the beer served in a bar generates four times the value of the same beer sold as retail. That is why, appealing to common sense and following the health and safety measures to ensure a safe and sustainable recovery, we have to visit our bars now more than ever to help the local consumption and revive the value chain of the sector.