Why Craft Beer Is a Smart Pour
There should be no debate that the microbrewery industry in New Brunswick adds significant value to the economy. As an industry that currently employs thousands, and has an annual (indirect and induced) impact of $8.3 million, the micro-brewery sector has the potential to multiply 17 times over in the next 10 years to an astonishing $144.5 million. Producers of craft beer, mead, wine and cider are quickly becoming a staple of every day society, and as such we need to welcome and help foster their growth. With a backbone of over 60 academic institutions and research centres, New Brunswick is uniquely positioned to house and help grow the sector and as a result, satisfy a growing demand. Paired with Fredericton’s cost-competitiveness, talent pool, and an ideal proximity to large consumer markets, many craft brewers are rushing to make our city their homestead.
Fredericton’s craft brewery industry has witnessed rapid expansion and is now home to 15 breweries and brewpubs, making it the highest concentration of breweries, meaderies and cideries in Atlantic Canada. These taprooms consistently draw urbanites and tourists alike to the city streets for a taste of these specialty products, and continue to show promise for even further growth. As the industry continues to flourish, it will create a demand for supporting industries to produce the necessary ingredients and resources, employing several more in value chain industries such as agriculture, manufacturing and tourism.
It is no secret that Fredericton has seen a spike in tourism from events and festival centered around craft beer products. With an increased production of home-brewed stouts, malts and ales, entrepreneurs, existing businesses and our local tourism department have met the demand by creating companies, festivals and events that are focused on showcasing Fredericton’s craft scene. Beer tours, week-long festivals, and an increase in tasting rooms to include restaurants and hotels are only a few examples of how the city has catered to the industry. Residents and outside visitors can choose to sample craft beer during an invigorating Hopped Yoga session, explore the many breweries around town on a Brewhopper tour bus, get lost in the only craft brew room in the province, and lace up for Fredericton’s annual beer run. The point is, we have variety unlike any other and it continues to attract numerous buyers and interest each year.
The agricultural sector is another industry that has benefited greatly from the rise of microbreweries. Accounting for $874 million annual GDP, businesses in the sector profit from the $3.3 million invested yearly in agricultural research and product development, and the lowest cost per acre in the country. New Brunswick has world-class facilities, such as the Fredericton Research and Development Centre - one of 19 agriculture research centres in Canada - and a talent pipeline of roughly 6,000 professionals. And, from new businesses choosing to locate in our capital city come new career opportunities for residents, international students and newcomers.
Ahead of other jurisdictions, New Brunswick has a reputation of being a premier cluster of craft beers that are of the highest quality and craftsmanship. To keep the momentum going in a rapidly developing and profitable industry, it is essential that producers are given the necessary support for continued growth. As the economic development agency for the Fredericton community, Ignite Fredericton would encourage that reforms in provincial policy and regulation be embraced by the government. If the province were to implement an economic development strategy versus one of taxation, we would maintain competitiveness and solidify our position as the micro-brewery capital of Canada. An economic development strategy would include targeted objectives and action items that examine the micro-brewery sector with an economic lens.
In order to see continued progression, and avoid market saturation, microbreweries - like any other business - should be encouraged to export their products to foreign markets. But, when growth puts businesses in a higher tax bracket due to harsh regulations, brewers begin to question their future as a mature producer. We encourage the province of New Brunswick to continue creating incentives for producers so that export is without question, and with organizations and programs in place to help guide and support those looking to enter new markets, businesses are positioned appropriately to reach their full potential.
The problem of interprovincial trade barriers is another irritant that Canadian businesses have faced for decades. On top of causing millions of dollars to be lost each year in revenue and taxes, a lack of common rules and regulations are keeping Canadian companies from tapping into neighbouring, domestic markets. With limited consumer choice, companies are seeing a stunt in growth and an even great loss in opportunity. Gone should be the days of driving out-of-province for cheaper prices on beers and spirits, and instead a stronger push to have free trade amongst our interprovincial borders.
Tahlia Ferlatte, Marketing and Communications Coordinator