Craft breweries struggle to cope with Omicron supply chain crisis

Anton NilssonNCA NewsWire
Craft brewers are feeling the weight of Omicron.
Camera IconCraft brewers are feeling the weight of Omicron. Credit: istock

Craft beer is the latest product to be affected by the Omicron-fuelled supply chain crisis.

Independent brewers have struggled to get the materials they need to keep making beer, an industry body said.

And the massive amount of workers in isolation is slowing down the can’s journey from brewery to bottle shop.

“There have been a lot of challenges in the last two years, but I don’t think there’s anything like what we’re seeing now,” said Kylie Lethbridge, chief executive of the Independent Brewers Association.

Yulli's Brews
Camera IconSydney indie beer makers Yulli’s Brews has felt the impact of the Omicron surge. Toby Zerna Credit: News Corp Australia

“We‘ve got an eight per cent overall market share, but we employ 50 per cent of the industry, so we’re more labour intensive.

“So if you have half your workforce off, because they're either isolating with Covid or have been a close contact, then that’s a massive challenge for meeting production schedules.”

James Harvey, director of Sydney’s Yulli’s Brews, said the situation felt like a lockdown without the financial support.

“There’s a labour shortage, and the impact it has when one person is suddenly a close contact, or has to isolate, and just how prevalent that’s been over the past month – it has a serious impact on how you run the business,” he said.

The impact of Omicron has been heavier than the other coronavirus waves, Mr Harvey said.

“To be honest, this one is the hardest. The demand (from customers) is so low, but it doesn’t make it any easier,” he said.

“Especially when you're still trying to run a business and you’re still trying to pay staff and keep things afloat.”

Earlier in the week, a ANZ-Roy Morgan survey saw a huge Omicron-fuelled slump in consumer confidence and spending nationwide.

Ms Lethbridge said some breweries had struggled to get ingredients for speciality beers, like fruit, and that the industry had earlier suffered from an aluminium shortage.

The nation’s indie brewing scene’s total revenue was $892 million in 2019-2020 and some 600 breweries employed over 33,000 people, according to the IBA.

Originally published as Craft breweries struggle to cope with Omicron supply chain crisis

Get the latest news from in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails