Beer giants warn shutdown could stall beer supply for months

The nation’s biggest beer suppliers have warned government of the dangers of closing breweries as part of measures to quell the spread of COVID-19.

On Sunday, Prime minister Scott Morrison and state and territory leaders agreed on a shutdown of non-essential services including pubs, restaurants and other licensed venues.

While these closures will impact sales, alcoholic beverage brands are continuing to produce goods for retail but many are fearful that a complete lockdown could see the closure of manufacturing operations.

“Unfortunately, you can’t turn major breweries off and then quickly turn them back on. If breweries are included in a widespread shut down, we may not be able to get beer to the market for some months after re-opening,” Carlton & United Breweries CEO Peter Filipovic said.

Carlton & United Breweries said its facilities remain fully operational, under strict Health and Safety Rules, and is busy supplying products for retail.

“We are currently brewing enough beer to ensure we supply our retail customers and ensure Australians are still able to enjoy a beer in their home in these unprecedented times,” Filipovic added.

Lion Australia MD James Brindley echoed Filipovic’s concerns over a potential closure of breweries.

“The UK, EU and US have kept retail and takeaway liquor operating, and the supply chains behind them,” Brindley said.

He acknowledged that it is an “extremely distressing time” for the hospitality industry and is working with customers to support them during the crisis.

“Following the Government’s announcement that pubs and clubs will close from midday today, Monday 23 March 2020, we are now in the process of working through options to assist our customers who are affected by this new closure order,” Brindley said.

Lion will take back unused kegs at no cost or charge and offer customers a credit.

Licensed venues explore takeaway and home delivery

Many NSW bars and pubs are taking advantage of a government decision to allow businesses to offer takeaway and home delivery of food and alcohol during the closures.

Independent MP for Sydney Alex Greenwhich urged the government to work with local business owners to permit flexible delivery of services to keep venues in business and employees on the payroll.

“Despite several government stimulus packages, many bars and pubs are caught in a gap that could prevent them from accessing any income during the government’s lockdown measures,” Greenwich said in a statement on Tuesday.

“I’m grateful to the government for accepting this proposal. 

“It will be especially important for small bars who have a very loyal customer base that wants to support them and their specialty offerings during these difficult times.”

Sydney’s One Drop Brewing Co in Botany is among the small businesses offering takeaway beers as well as delivery through its “Roaming Barman”.

Beep for Beer drive-thru

“We always thought with the way our brewery is laid out that the Beep for Beer contactless drive-thru option and the Roaming Barman would be fun, the situation we are in has just brought it all about a lot sooner and forced us to think fun, fast and creatively,” One Drop Brewing Co owner Meg Barbic told Inside FMCG.

“We just wanted all our customers to know that we love creating an awesome experience and beer that’s a unique expression of the One Drop vibe. Which is good vibes and good beer and we will ‘keep it flowing’.”

Melbourne’s Made in the Shade group was also quick to offer home delivery services with a range of cocktail hampers.

The group’s Everleigh Bottling Co. are working on a release of ‘medicinal’ cocktails made that day by The Everleigh bartenders and delivered to consumers’ doors in larger format bottles.

The company said, “if nothing else, [the cocktails] will lift the spirits in a time of doom and gloom.”


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