By Christine Comeau (she/her)
Executive Director, Canadian Craft Brewers Association

“I’m making more beer than ever before. I’m also making less money than ever before.” It’s a story I’ve been hearing a lot lately. While new in the role as Executive Director of your CCBA, I’m not new to the industry, having most recently co-chaired the Canada Beer Cup and before that, as Executive Director of Craft Alcohol NB. So, yeah, I’ve been hearing a lot of stories.

The happy tales are of those emerging from the pandemic, with friends and family joyfully reuniting over a brew or two in taprooms and brewpubs across our nation. Meanwhile, inflationary pressures, fuel surcharges, supply chain issues, cashflow pressure, space, labour shortages, cleaning, and keeping customers and staff safe and happy are putting pressures on us like never before. As if that’s not enough, excise is calibrated with inflation and expected to go up around 6% next year. Ouch.

Canada’s craft beer industry needs a break. We are vital to Canada’s economic recovery. That’s the story I tell. Our craft sector represents 60% of all industry jobs. Fifty-five percent of craft breweries are in rural communities. We contribute to tourism, agriculture, professional services, transportation, arts, culture, and population growth and retention. We help build strong communities where people want to live, work and play.

Our independent craft brewers are resilient. Our people are second to none.

Nationally, our craft breweries have 10% market share[1]. In the US, it’s 13.1%[2]. In BC, it’s over 30% and growing. Consumers love local craft beer. We are nowhere near market saturation.

This gives me hope.

As your new Executive Director of the CCBA my first order of business will be fighting to modernize the excise duty structure. This one isn’t a sprint, but a marathon. Other priorities include soon announcing dates for the second annual Canada Beer Cup; promoting the Independent Craft BreweryTM seal; advocating for fair and reasonable labelling, traceability, and environmental stewardship requirements; and advancing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) in our craft brewing industry.

We’re not in this alone. Our industry is over 1,100 craft breweries strong. And we’re growing.

Together, we will make a difference. We’re already making a difference. Just ask your loyal customers, many of whom you know by name.

Feel free to reach out to me with your stories, thoughts, concerns, opportunities, or just to tell me a joke. I’d like to get to know your name. My direct line is: christine.comeau@ccba-ambc.org or 506-647-0674.

I’m all ears, and cheers.

Christine

[1] MNP Economic Impact Study of Canada’s independent craft beer sector, 2022.

[2] Brewers Association, 2021 “National Beer Sales & Production Data” https://www.brewersassociation.org/statistics-and-data/national-beer-stats/.