Blog Archive

Thursday, January 15, 2015

To Export or Not to Export? That is the question.

You are a small micro brewery achieving local success and you are for the most part supplying a sufficient amount of beer to your locals which is the most important thing to begin with.

Your steady growth has seen the demand for your beer grow in other states and even countries to the point that you feel you need to satiate some of this demand.

You export a small amount of your beer and thirsty drinkers gobble it all up leaving an empty hole in shelves possibly for months at a time.

The above scenario is a very real one and one that I'm sure many breweries are faced especially as the growth of the industry continues in spades.

So as a small business operator, faced with this situation you have a few choices..

A.) Don't Export.
Don't export your product, grow your business slowly and overtime expand to accommodate the export market by up-scaling/up-sizing your business but potentially risk losing that international demand and buzz around your product that you have currently.

B.) Export small amounts.
Keep fulfilling the demands of your locals but export small amounts of your product to satiate that market. This will mean that most likely only the dedicated fans and hardcore beer geeks will pickup your beer because others may find it difficult to track down.

There is a third choice but some brewers may be resistant to this concept as it could feel like you are giving a child away..

C.) Contract Brewing.
What this means is that you find a brewery with the capacity and setup for what you need and you hand over your recipes and provide guidance for them to brew the volume you require. You do this regularly enough so that the amount produced is enough to give the export market a better crack at your beer.
There is however now some business that are making this type of brewing their job which can ease the risk and the trust involved because you are entering into a legally binding contract in some cases but in QLD there isn't anything of this type currently.

I don't home brew and haven't ever been involved in a brew before but my opinion on this is just that, an opinion. That said I'm a fence sitter on this subject, by that I mean I sit somewhere between A and B and possibly lean a little into C and can understand why as a business owner or even a head brewer you would need to way up your options before doing any of these things.

I can see the benefits of exporting a small amount to get your name out there and in turn create demand but I imagine it could be a bit of a slippery slope with bottleshops not understanding why you can't maintain a shelf spot and more so consumers not understanding why they can't get the beer they love.

Your average beer nerd realises that if you love craft beer you need to be willing to accept that certain beers will be hard to get but as the industry expands and new, potentially uneducated consumers jump on board they find may it difficult at first although with that same growth this should ease anyway as breweries expand.

As for contract brewing it makes sense in many ways and with contract breweries taking the difficulty out of it by focusing on this as their own business then it will continue to remain an option and form it's own niche part of the industry.

This post is my opinion only and not based on any insider knowledge or anything like that so feel free to add to the conversation if you'd like..

No comments:

Post a Comment