While the industry battles the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, suppliers are thinking ahead.
In this update, both ingredients and equipment suppliers let the industry know about everything from supply chains and the state of the harvest, to their overall strategies to ensure their ongoing viability in the face of the pandemic.
While it is a difficult and challenging time for the industry, the overwhelming advice from suppliers is for breweries to get in touch, and work together to sort a solution out.
Spark Breweries and Distilleries
In an update this week, Spark Breweries and Distilleries said it was a “gut-wrenching time” for the industry.
“There is no such thing as business as usual at the best of times, but we’ve decided as a team to double down on what we do best – support good beer and good brewing businesses while we all fight through this,” Julian Sanders, managing director of Spark told Brews News.
“This attitude has worked for us for 6 years and we owe a debt of gratitude to everyone who has supported us on this journey together.
“Now is a time that we can reciprocate with some solid tactical support. Get in contact – we are always here to compare notes and share ideas.”
Spark itself and its supply chain is fully operational at this stage, and has been fabricating and shipping products for the past three weeks.
“We have had a host of enquiries from people anxious to check that Spark is operating smoothly,” said Sanders.
“From digital controllers to equipment finance, our supply chain options are resilient and we have stock and support capacity to ensure that we can continue to look after clients old and new for many years to come.
“We have been quite prudent and careful since the beginning, to ensure that there is no financial risk to our clients or ourselves and this has stood everyone in good stead. Our focus is on successful clients and developing technology that helps that, not growth.
“We are not going anywhere.”
While breweries are in planning they are somewhat protected from the cash flow issues operational breweries face, and this is something Spark has noticed of its customers.
“Surprisingly, in the past few weeks we’ve found many customers who are taking this period of time to reflect and plan new brewing businesses while property deals are favourable – they want to come out of this with a great little business that is itself resilient and future relevant,” Sanders said.
“The five of us have been flat out for the past week preparing information to help brewers find solutions that work for their individual businesses.
“One customer is relaunching as a take away and delivery pizza and beer off licence – in these times of crisis it is important to focus on what IS possible and try not to worry more than is productive about what we can’t control. Business, community and personal relationships come to the fore.
“We are holding open weekly discussion webinar sessions every Thursday morning to workshop fast and practical solution to getting beer to market through the next 6 months.”
The one-hour webinars will be held every Thursday at 10am AEST (11am current Sydney and Melbourne time, 8am WA time).
Independent hop product supplier HopCo is also proving resilient, with all 2019 Northern Hemisphere hops either in stock or en route.
“We are taking all possible precautions to ensure that we keep the beer flowing and the industry alive,” a HopCo representative told Brews News.
“In these challenging and unprecedented times, we will endeavour to keep our valued customers informed and engaged as the social and economic implications surrounding the COVID-19 virus continue to evolve.
“We continue to work closely with our international suppliers, domestic customers, warehouse and distribution partners while adhering to all guidelines presented by the Australian government.”
The HopCo team said that they are offering relaxed payment terms to customers who may be experiencing financial difficulty, and to get in touch to see what the HopCo team can work out.
There have been no reported disruptions to any freight in transit, HopCo said, or domestic distribution with providers Jet Couriers and TNT.
Its warehouse facility is currently open and operational and the team are adhering to the highest possible standards of hygiene.
The harvest is still underway in New Zealand, and the HopCo team are working closely with the New Zealand Hops to provide any updates should the situation change.
“As an Australian-owned family business, we understand that such unprecedented times will inevitably impact the industry, small businesses and the individuals who rely on them,” HopCo said.
“We encourage our customers to reach out should they need assistance at any point via email at [email protected] or to give us a call on +61362280768.
“Let’s keep the beer flowing.”
Ingredients supplier IMCD has reported that customer service and warehouses functions are fully operational, with staff working from home where required.
“As our products are stored in our own warehouses we are able to deliver to Metropolitan sites with our own transport,” said an IMCD representative.
“Current stock levels for our range of ingredients offer customers security for their production over the next couple of months.”
The company encouraged customers to work with them to discuss forecast stock requirements, which enables them to top up and adapt to changing requirements.
IMCD says that it is aware many of its customers will be affected.
“It will be a changing environment that we need to support. For example, with licensed venues closing, those breweries reliant on keg sales will reduce their requirements from us, unless they redirect to putting their product in cans.
“Canning your kegs and extending shelf life of product in tank using stabilisers and antioxidants should be looked at too.
“As some products from a brewery’s regular supply chain become difficult to get, we hope IMCD can support those breweries to help them through their process. We are here to help.”
IMCD said that it is putting into place government sanctions, but it was continuing as normal while keeping a close eye on the situation as it unfolds.