To put it bluntly, the Covid-19 outbreak has not been good for craft breweries. A large number of breweries have seen a considerable reduction in production. Worse still, the lockdown has forced all breweries to shut down their taprooms and dining rooms until further notice.
Leading commercial and microbrewery manufacturers in India, including Carlsberg, Bira 91, have sent joint appeals to the Central government as well as several state governments to allow them to sell beer online, as the lockdown is extended.
The beer industry contributes over Rs. 50,000 crores in terms of revenue to the state exchequer annually. India is one of the fastest-growing markets for beer in the world, with over 340 million cases sold per year.
Industry insiders predict losses amounting to 25% or more this year due to this lockdown. Around 30 to 40% of annual beer sales happen roughly in the first quarter of the fiscal year. With the lockdown extending, breweries across the country stand to lose nearly two months of their high sales season.
Brewery owners believe that this is the right time to introduce online sales of beer. By allowing breweries to sell their brews online, it can help breweries meet their flailing sales. Breweries also have appealed to the government to allow them to open their outlets to avoid wastage. Unlike other spirits, beer has a short shelf-life, just around 12 months. Going forward, beer outlets and taprooms will have to enhance social distancing norms.
The beer industry is the biggest consumer of barley crops in India. With the current crop of barley ready to be harvested, relaxing shut down norms for breweries is the best way to prevent these crops from getting wasted.
Right now, the truth is that – no one can predict how the situation will pan out. With the Covid-19 situation changing by the hour, every business, including breweries, are waiting to spot the light at the end of the tunnel.
Innovative ideas like contactless delivery of beer, curbside pickups for customers outside taprooms, selling beer-related merchandise can help breweries tide through these unexpected times. Do you have any ideas on how to keep your business going during these difficult times? Share with us your thoughts and comments.