The COVID-19 pandemic has derailed years of steady growth for Ohio’s craft brewing industry, according to Ohio Craft Brewers Associationthe biennial economic impact study. The state’s independent craft breweries were responsible for a total economic impact of $880.7 million in 2020, down from the $967.1 million generated in 2018. The study, commissioned by the association and led by Silverlode Consultingreports an 8.9% decrease in economic impact and an 11% drop in craft beer production volume attributable to the pandemic, but an increase in the number of breweries operating and the number people directly employed by them.
Ohio’s craft beer industry has seen a significant recovery through the end of 2019, with an estimated economic impact of nearly $1 billion and growing. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has dealt a severe blow to small breweries, many of which rely on dining room sales by the glass to optimize their bottom line. Decreasing customer traffic, coupled with a shift to less profitable take-out and delivery sales, has caused the craft beer dollar market share to plunge 22 percent nationally in 2020, according to a report by the Brewers Association.
Even with the enormous challenges posed by the pandemic, 47 new craft breweries opened in Ohio in 2020, bringing the year-end total to a record 357. According to the Ohio Craft Brewers Association study, breweries in government directly employed 6,247 people in 2020, up from 6,085 in 2018. This increase is particularly notable given the labor shortages that businesses in the hospitality and service sector have had to contend with. faced over the past year.
More than 70% of the breweries that took part in the survey indicated that they plan to increase beer production over the next two years. About half of survey respondents anticipate facility expansion over the same period. Survey respondents reported more than $1.7 million in charitable donations made in 2020, up from $1.15 million in 2018, despite declining revenue caused by the pandemic.
“Craft brewers have really struggled to overcome the effects of the pandemic, and the fight is not over yet,” said OCBA executive director Mary MacDonald. “Emergency relief funds and targeted changes to laws and regulations have helped many of our breweries survive, but small businesses need continued support if we are to see a successful recovery. The economic disruption caused by COVID has been massive, unprecedented and has disproportionately affected small businesses. The craft brewing industry is unlikely to return to normal until 2022 at the earliest. However, the plans of our breweries to increase their production and expand their facilities give us some hope in the short term.
The full report of the economic impact study is available at ohiocraftbeer.org.