While much of the focus has been on the impact that lockdowns are having on breweries and venues, brewers associations are also facing their own challenges as their events are postponed.
This week, the US Brewers Association laid off 23 per cent of its staff and enacted ‘tiered’ salary reductions for its management team. The association had made operational budget earlier in April.
The move came after the association was forced to cancel its Craft Brewers Conference & BrewExpo, the World Beer Cup competition and also SAVOR, its annual craft beer and food pairing event in Washington.
Events make up a significant part of the industry associations’ annual budgets. In Australia, the Independent Brewers Association’s staff levels increased significantly through the 2018 merger of the IBA with Melbourne’s Good Beer Week.
The IBA said at the time that the team expansion would be key to developing other major industry events, including BrewCon, the IBA’s annual Conference and Trade Expo, and the Indies.
In March the IBA announced it had postponed Good Beer Week, and then in April BrewCon and the Indies – originally scheduled for September – were postponed. BrewCon is likely to be rescheduled to later in the year.
Association chair, Peter Philip, told Brews News that, like its members, the IBA has had to make hard decisions during the shutdowns.
“Our staff are on 4-day weeks, so they have taken a 20 per cent cut across the board,” he said.
“We’re having to take advantage of JobKeeper and any other government grants that are available to us.”
He said that the association’s events were important for its outlook after the current shutdowns.
“It’s very important to us that we hold BrewCon, if we didn’t , we could be in some financial trouble.
“But we think if we can hold BrewCon, we will be fine.”
The challenges come as the IBA’s role has been showcased with the increased focus on its lobbying and support role during the current crisis.
The association’s advocacy efforts have generated significant mainstream media coverage nationally for the plight of brewers affected by the shutdowns. It has also been aggressively lobbying governments at all levels for specific consideration for brewers, including the Federal government for an increase in the excise rebate to $350,000.
“These are the times that you need an association,” Philip said.
“Breweries absolutely are cash constrained at the moment, but we are getting people signing up – so that’s good.