The Brewers Association (BA) laid off 23% of its staff last week “in order to maintain the long-term viability” of the national trade group, which represents the interests of small and independent U.S. craft brewers.
The BA announced the job cuts on its website Monday.
“We thoughtfully, carefully, and painfully weighed options to arrive at those decisions,” the BA said. “We believe these actions will help the association weather the storm at this time and to remain committed to its purpose — to promote and protect American craft brewers, their beers, and the community of brewing enthusiasts.”
The BA said it continues to work with the laid off workers “to help them navigate this transition.”
In addition to the job cuts, the BA said it has enacted tiered salary reduction for its management team, in addition to operational budget cuts made earlier in April.
Several craft brewing companies across the country have laid off or furloughed workers since mid-March when the novel coronavirus forced the shutdown of on-premise retail sales at brewery taprooms, tasting rooms, bars and restaurants in the U.S. Among those companies are Deschutes Brewery, Stone Brewing, Russian River, Great Lakes, Karl Strauss, Coronado Brewing, McMenamins, Founders and many others.
An early April survey conducted by the BA revealed the financial pressures COVID-19 is putting on the craft brewing industry, as 46.4% of respondents said their breweries would likely only stay in business for up to three months, 12.7% of respondents said they could stay afloat for another one to four weeks, and 2.5% of respondents said they were planning to close. Those results project that thousands of the 8,275 craft beer companies in the U.S will close their doors.
Last week, the BA and nonprofit fundraising organization Bottleshare established the “Believe in Beer Fund” to support breweries and state brewers guilds across the country that have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The groups are currently accepting applications from those companies and guilds in need of financial assistance for payroll, rent and utilities through May 17th. Since launching four days ago, the fund has received $3,175 in donations from 39 people.
The BA was forced to cancel two of its signature events — the annual Craft Brewers Conference & BrewExpo America and SAVOR — as well as the World Beer Cup competition earlier this spring due to concerns caused by the spread of COVID-19 in the U.S. CBC was expected to draw more than 13,000 industry professionals to San Antonio, Texas, from April 19-22.
Tickets are still on sale for the BA’s next event, the American Homebrewers Association’s Homebrew Con, which is slated to take place June 18-20 in Nashville, Tennessee.