Canada, NB: Craft alcohol industry employs more people than traditional domestic breweries
There are twice as many people employed in the craft alcohol industry than with traditional domestic breweries, according to numbers from craft alcohol producers across New Brunswick, CBC.ca reported on November 12.
CBC News contacted more than 70 producers of craft alcoholic beverages as well as traditional brewers. Fifty replied, reporting a combined total of around 660 workers, most of which are full-time.
According to those numbers, at least 440 people are employed by craft operations.
More traditional brewers employ around 225 people. That includes Moosehead Breweries, with approximately 180 workers in the province and Molson-Coors with 45.
"We're really a desirable location to work for, a lot of cool people," said Sean Dunbar, president of the New Brunswick Craft Alcohol Producers Association and owner of Picaroons Traditional Ales.
"So, it doesn't surprise me. And the growth of our sector of the beer industry has been, maybe, meteoric."
Dunbar has 55 employees, one of the larger operations in the province. But he's not the biggest. The Pump House Brewery in Moncton has 90 employees, most of which are full-time.
But the majority of craft brewers in the province are tiny, many employing fewer than 10 people, with several operating with just one or two.
Dunbar isn't sure when the craft workers outpaced the bigger brewers, but says recent years have seen exponential growth.
"It's amazing that in a few short years, especially in the last three or four years of growth, that this little sector of these little businesses have been able to contribute that amount of jobs to the economy," said Dunbar.
"In Fredericton itself we now have more breweries and cideries than Tim Hortons outlets," said Dunbar. "That stands huge as a testament to the popularity and the acceptance of what we do."
The New Brunswick Liquor Corporation states that despite domestic beer sales declining 6.4% in the last quarter, craft sales continue to rise.
"New Brunswick beer consumers have not swayed from their love of locally produced beer and that segment continued to experience double-digit growth through the quarter at 12%," said spokesperson Nicole Picot.
Earlier this month, the liquor corporation sounded a warning about craft alcohol operations in the province, stating numbers are expected to plateau.
Patrick Parent, CEO of the NB Liquor Corporation, stated that the market is almost saturated.
But not everyone agrees.
"There are a lot more players in the game," said Jake Saunders, co-owner of Trailway Brewing Co.
Saunders admits there is more competition than there was when he built his brewery on Fredericton's north side in 2016. But he says more brewers are catering to more tastes
"Some people don't like my product, but some people love it, and vice versa," said Saunders. "So that's great that we can all operate in our own markets."
Saunders said he employs 34 people. He said that while many craft operations aren't nearly as efficient as the larger companies, he doubts things will become as streamlined.
"We're craft and we're pretty hands-on," said Saunders. "The thought of automation doesn't excite us the same amount as some of the big guys."
There hasn't been an economic impact report on the craft industry for a number of years according to Dunbar, but jobs have been created outside of the sector because of expanding craft operations. Those include hospitality jobs.
"We've grown in the last couple of years, doubled the amount of staff that we have because of the craft beer," said Lindsi George, the bar captain at The Joyce in Fredericton.
George has a staff of 11 people. Every one of the pub's 36 taps serve local brews.
She said if craft alcohol wasn't on the menu some of the jobs wouldn't exist. "Not half as many," said George.
CBC News only tallied the direct jobs created as a result of brewing operations. That includes servers and kitchen staff employed if breweries established restaurants around their brew operations, as is the case with Big Tide Brewing in Saint John or Pump House.
The jobs weren't counted if established businesses later added brewing operations, as was the case with RustiCo in Fredericton or Moncton's Tide and Boar. In those cases, only the staff directly involved in brewing operations were counted.
Seasonal employees were also not counted in the final tally.
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