The craft beer industry and the beer distribution industry can find themselves on opposite ends of the political spectrum, wrangling for their own local advantages from time to time. The recent battle in Texas being an especially ridiculous example. For craft brewers, distributor independence is obviously critical, and while some distributors may not recognize this at the moment, the success and growth of craft beer is vital to the future success of distributors too.
To put the size, scale and economic importance of the third-tier of the beer industry into perspective, the National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA) sent over some stats. According to the economic impact report America’s Beer Distributors: Fueling Jobs, Generating Economic Growth & Delivering Value to Local Communities, more than 3,000 independent beer distribution facilities directly employ more than 135,000 men and women in communities across the country, who collectively earn $11.1 billion per year in pay and benefits.
Imagine tipping all of that over to simply a few powerful Big Beer companies. Then, imagine it all remaining truly independent. Those two drastically different visions are why distribution battles rage on.
“With more than 4,000 breweries in operation across the United States today, independent distributors are building more brands and delivering more labels to the marketplace than ever before,” said NBWA President and CEO Craig Purser. “Because of distribution employees who drive the beer trucks in local communities, fill the beer coolers at corner stores and deliver new tap handles to neighborhood pubs, consumers can choose from an unparalleled variety of beer – from familiar domestic brands to intriguing imports and exciting new products from local and small craft brewers. That’s something we can all celebrate.”
The report, produced by Bill Latham and Ken Lewis of the Center for Applied Business & Economic Research at the University of Delaware, provides a comprehensive look at beer distribution companies’ total impact on national and state economies. In addition to the impact of distributor operations, the report also accounts for the amount of resources contributed by beer distributors in supporting community events and local economic development, contributing to charitable causes and promoting responsible alcohol use.
“The beer distribution sector is a hidden gem that has been tremendously undervalued in previous economic reports,” Latham stated. “Fueling more than 338,000 direct and indirect jobs, beer distributors add $70 billion to the nation’s gross domestic product and offer far reaching benefits to brewers, retailers, consumers and government agencies at all levels.”
Key findings of the economic impact study include:
- The beer distribution industry directly employs more than 135,000 people in the United States.
- When the impacts of distributor capital investment and community involvement are considered, the total number of impact jobs exceeds 338,000.
- Beer distributors add $70 billion to the nation’s gross domestic product.
- Beer distributor activities contribute nearly $13 billion to the federal, state and local tax bases. This does not include the nearly $11 billion in federal, state and local alcohol excise and consumption taxes.
- The beer distribution industry contributes more than $23 billion in transportation efficiencies for the beer industry each year.
- Beer distributor activities result in nearly $178 million in economic impacts to communities through support of charities, local events and economic development.