The Independent Brewers Alliance (IBA) purchasing co-op is now helping over 100 craft breweries save money on raw materials and operational expenses including cans, chemicals, packaging, kegs, labels, accounting services, employee benefits and more.
We’ve been following this group’s progress since it was just a germ of an idea in a conference room at the 2016 CBC. For the unaware, the Independent Brewers Alliance is a cooperative made up of independent craft breweries who leverage their combined buying power to negotiate long-term savings programs with leading industry suppliers. By joining the IBA, brewers benefit from the strength of the group and the cooperative buying power it brings while staying completely independent. The IBA’s permanent staff creates the savings programs. Members only participate in those programs that are right for their brewery.
According to Matt Hopkins, the IBA’s Executive Director, over 70 breweries from across the country and Canada chose to join the IBA in 2020. Hopkins attributes this to two factors.
“First, we added some important new savings programs that drew brewer interest,” Hopkins says. “These include pressure sensitive labels, brewery sanitation chemicals and employee health insurance. Second, the impact of COVID-19 on the industry has driven a lot of brewers to look for innovative ways like the IBA to improve their bottom lines.”
While surpassing 100 members was an important milestone for the IBA’s community of brewers, its real import, according to Hopkins, is the buying power it gives members.
“Now when we enter negotiations with a new supplier,” said Hopkins, “We go in with the purchasing leverage of a 700,000-barrel brewery. That means significant savings for almost every member on every program.”
According to Hopkins the IBA’s momentum has created another benefit for brewer-members.
“Member-growth is now happening mainly through brewer-to-brewer word of mouth,” said Hopkins. “Hardly a day goes by when a new brewer doesn’t contact me asking to learn more. That lets us take our focus off recruiting and put it where it should be – on negotiating new savings programs – like malt, hops, corrugate, safety equipment and CO₂ – and improving pricing on our current programs.”