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The beer and brewing industry in Canada faced various challenges and changes amid COVID-19 in 2020.
The number of brewing facilities increased by 8.0%, from 1120 in 2019 to 1210 in 2020. Most of Canada’s breweries are small, local operations, with 94% producing less than 15,000 hectolitres of beer. Nationally, the number of brewing facilities per 100,000 drinking age adults increased by 8.1% from 3.7 to 4.0 for the year. The increase decelerated significantly from last year's increase of 11%.
Provincially, New Brunswick led the way with 9.4 breweries per 100,000 drinking age adults, followed by Nova Scotia with 8.7 and Prince Edward Island with 7.8. In comparison, Manitoba, at 1.9 breweries per 100,000 drinking age adults, had the lowest rate.
Domestic production was down for 2020, having decreased by 0.3% to 22,674,000 hectolitres. Total national beer sales declined by 1.4% in 2020 to 21,118,230 hL. Domestic sales remained relatively unchanged, where import sales declined by 8%.
Beer continues to have a substantial impact on Canada’s economy. Conference Board of Canada figures show beer supports 149,000 Canadian jobs, with a labour income of $5.3 billion while contributing $13.6 billion to Canada’s GDP. This impact is due in large part to the domestic nature of Canada’s beer industry. In 2020, 85% of the beer consumed in Canada was brewed in Canada.
In 2020, Canadians of legal drinking age consumed on average 69.3 litres of beer, a decline of 2.7% from 2019.
Provincially, Newfoundland and Labrador had the highest per capita consumption at 90.6 litres of beer, followed by Quebec and New Brunswick who were tied at 77.4 litres. British Columbia had the lowest per capita consumption of all provinces at 64.8 litres.
Canned beer accelerated in popularity in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In 2020, national can sales increased by 12.3%, while bottle sales declined by 15.1%, and keg sales fell by a staggering 54.8%. Keg sales steep decline is due to the restaurant and bar closures across Canada and a shift in packaging throughout 2020. Cans accounted for 74% of national beer sales, followed by bottles with 21% and kegs with 5%.
The Canadian brewing industry continues to be an environmental leader. Since 1990, greenhouse gas emissions in brewing facilities have declined by 57.3%. Over the same time period, energy use in brewing facilities went down by 48.1%. Company initiatives aimed at improving production practices to reduce our industry’s environmental footprint have contributed to these impressive improvements.
There is a lot to explore in the 2021 Industry Trends update. We encourage you to browse through the national and provincial pages. Should you have any questions, contact us.
Are you a Beer Canada member? If so, you have access to the full Industry Trends report; contact us.