Toast to a Promising Future
George GuidoniGeneral Bottles Ontario Craft Brewers (OCB) association Ontario Craft Brewers Conference and Suppliers Marketplace
Canadian Packaging editor George Guidoni raises a glass to the ever-growing beer industry in the October 2019 issue.
The glass is always half full, at the very least, in Ontario’s thriving craft beer industry. While the country’s traditional Big Three beer triumvirate comprised of Molson Coors, InBev (Labatt) and Sleeman seems to be constantly struggling with the reality of a mature and flat market for mass-produced beer products, the province’s craft brewing community continues to grow in leaps and bounds.
Currently accounting for 10 per cent of all beer sales in the province, according to the Ontario Craft Brewers (OCB) association, the province’s craft beer producers appear to have taken full advantage of the long-awaited regulatory changes to allow for limited beer sales at some grocery outlets across the province to maintain the sector’s stellar, double-digit annual growth that has evolved it into an important contributor to Ontario’s economy and job market.
And according to OCB president Scott Simmons, the industry can double its sales and market share within a couple of years if the provincial government allows for further relaxation of rigid rules still governing the sale and distribution of beer products in Ontario by opening up convenience stores and other channels. In fact, Simmons has some very interesting ideas on how the government could go about it, which he shares with Canadian Packaging in a special report starting after page 10 of this issue.
As for proof of the industry’s remarkable growth track record so far, OCB’s decision to move its annual Ontario Craft Brewers Conference and Suppliers Marketplace from its traditional host venue of Beanfield Centre at Toronto’s CNE fairgrounds to the Scotiabank Convention Centre in Niagara Falls this year neatly sums up the sector’s progress.
“The truth is that we simply outgrew the Beanfield Centre in terms of being able to fit all the exhibitors that want to be a part of the Suppliers Marketplace trade show,” Simmons explains. “We had to find a bigger place and the new Scotiabank facility in Niagara Falls checked off all the boxes for us.”
Running from Oct. 28 to 30, 2019, this year’s event promises to eclipse all other previous editions, according to Simmons, with well over 200 exhibitors and more than 1,200 visitors, who will be treated to a world-class conference featuring some of the global
craft beer industry’s leading lights.
As Simmons points out, the choice of Niagara Falls also happens to carry a fair bit of symbolic significance on the account of the venue’s proximity to the Niagara College of Applied Arts and Technology, home to the renowned Brewmaster and Brewing Operations Management diploma program that has already produced some of the country’s top professional brewmasters.
Says Simmons: “The DNA of the craft brewery business matches up very well with the DNA of today’s young people, specifically millennials, who find the working environment well aligned with their own personal beliefs that stress the importance of being very supportive of one another and really caring about the people behind the product, rather than solely the product itself.
“It’s just part of the nature of the industry.” Amen.
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