Craft brewing grew faster than any other segment of Ontario manufacturing in the last decade, but the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the challenges facing the industry.

London, Ontario – A recent study by the Trillium Network for Advanced Manufacturing builds on previous work that documented the rapid growth of craft brewing in Ontario between 2010 and 2019. While the previous report focused specifically on the contributions of craft breweries to the provincial economy, the new report emphasizes the outsized contributions that craft brewers make to their local communities.

“The extent to which craft breweries are integrated into Ontario communities is outstanding,” said Brendan Sweeney, the report’s author and Managing Director of the Trillium Network. “The outsized contributions that these companies–most of which are quite small–made to local charities and non-profit organizations in the last two years was impressive. This is especially so considering the reality of doing business during the pandemic.”

The report goes on to examine the challenges to competitiveness and profitability that craft brewers face–challenges that must be overcome if this increasingly important segment of Ontario manufacturing is to regain the growth trajectory that was interrupted by the pandemic. These challenges include market access, a substantial increase in breweryless producers or ‘virtual’ brewers with no bricks-and-mortar facilities, and increased beer imports by major retailers during the pandemic (despite prominent ‘buy local’ narratives)

Finally, the report suggests value in retail stores that feature beer and other beverages made in Ontario by Ontario-owned companies exclusively. It also identifies imports of commodity-grade beer and an excise tax system that favours breweryless producers and co-packers at the expense of bricks-and-mortar breweries as impediments to further growth and competitiveness.

Download the full report.

For more information contact:
Brendan Sweeney, PhD
Managing Director
Trillium Network for Advanced Manufacturing