How can supporting local suppliers help your brewery?

I’m going to lead with a bold and controversial statement: craft breweries are often telling customers to buy local or Canadian, but they often don't match that behaviour with the ingredients they buy.

All over the country, localized ingredient suppliers have emerged (making and distributing malt, hops, yeast, or fruit). I know that there is a desire to support local and Canadian suppliers, but the desires don’t always match reality. This means that many of these suppliers struggle to compete with imported ingredients, especially in the critical early years.

I’ll acknowledge the barriers to buying local: price, consistency, availability, and quality. But my primary goal here is to address those barriers and suggest a path forward for Canadian brewers to build closer relationships and more resilient supply chains with the Canadian beer ingredient community.

In 2022 we hope to see Canadian brewers using more Canadian ingredients. Below are four reasons why you should buy Canadian beer ingredients: 

1. If you buy Canadian-grown ingredients for your beers, the money stays in Canada instead of overseas.

This probably isn’t new knowledge but is worth repeating. Keeping your money in Canada helps support primary producers of your ingredients. This directly helps to create and retain jobs within the Canadian economy. Here at Escarpment Labs, we have added 30 jobs to the economy thanks to the support of Canadian brewers, and have trained many more people to become yeast experts through University co-op programs. Domestic supply chains create a lot of long-term benefits. 

2. Buying from domestic ingredient suppliers helps your suppliers add capacity and invest in quality.

One of the most common barriers I hear when talking about local and domestic ingredient producers is “they’re not quite there yet”. I’m sure these conversations happened among brewers about Escarpment Labs a few years ago, when we were a brand new business. But, how do you think producers get better? Early and sustained support is critical so that producers can hire staff, add physical capacity, and invest in quality. Your early commitment to supporting domestic producers helps create real long-term value.

3. Supporting local and domestic supply chains helps avoid supply chain disruptions.

2021 was the year of supply chain disruptions. The less distance and borders your supplies have to travel across to get to you, the less prone they will be to supply chain disruptions. In beer, it’s critical that we have a self-sufficient beer ingredient supply chain that isn’t sensitive to disruptions. We can do this is by buying more ingredients from Canadian producers.

4. Local and regional ingredient producers can create innovative products that give you a competitive edge.

When you support your local and domestic ingredient producers, they can build their businesses to the point where they have achieved consistency, price competitiveness, and regular availability.

After this is where the real magic happens: innovation. Once producers have established stable businesses, they are best equipped to innovate and create totally new products and solutions for brewers. This is what you are seeing here at Escarpment Labs - we are moving a lot faster with innovation thanks to the early support of Canadian brewers. This means we have the capacity to release innovative new yeast strains on a regular basis. This will enable us to deliver unique solutions for Canadian breweries and help give Canadian brewers an edge.

Where can I buy Canadian ingredients?

We are working on a list of Canadian beer ingredients producers. If you are a producer and want to be added to this list (to be shared in a future post), please email me at richard@escarpmentlabs.com. Likewise if you're a brewer and think your local hop farm is doing awesome work, we want to hear from you. 

Escarpment Labs solutions

It’s never been easier to shift your yeast supply chain to a domestic source.

Buying Canadian-produced liquid yeast means:

  • No middlemen or customs fees
  • Faster transit times
  • Buying in Canadian dollars

Contact us to find out how to make the switch and simplify your supply chain.