Craft Beer is Gaining Traction

Tap and tasting rooms have reopened across the country and the craft beer market is growing again. The craft brewery business has suffered the last two years from Covid19, inflation, rising fuel, and material costs, and logistical challenges just like every business category. The industry had to make significant shifts at the height of the pandemic as restaurants, bars, taprooms, microbreweries had to close in the early rounds of the pandemic. This forced them to focus on packaging beer for consumer sales and less B2B, or wholesale. Critical supply disruptions also affected access to hops, cans, CO2, and other brewing materials. The industry is rebounding despite ongoing challenges. Government funding and loans were a lifesaver for craft breweries across the country.

The Brewers Association defines an American craft brewery as a small and independent brewer:

Small: Annual production of 6 million barrels of beer or less (approximately 3 percent of U.S. annual sales). Beer production is attributed to a brewer according to the rules of alternating proprietorships.

Independent: Less than 25 percent of the craft brewery is owned or controlled (or equivalent economic interest) by a beverage alcohol industry member that is not itself a craft brewer.

Brewer: Has a TTB Brewer’s Notice and makes beer.

According to the Brewers Association, there are nearly 9,000 craft breweries in the U.S. employing directly and indirectly 400,000 people, supporting local economies by providing jobs, generating revenue, and paying taxes. The industry contributes roughly $62+ billion to the U.S. economy. Craft beer accounts for 12.3% of the $94B overall beer market.

While the giant breweries have large budgets to market their products on a national level, craft breweries focus on niche and regional markets combining creative packaging and beer labels while relying on unique recipes instead of a one-size-fits-all approach. Walk into any beer aisle and craft beers jump off the shelves with vibrant colors, wild artwork, funny names, and creative labels to stand out from the competition.

Printing craft beer labels is an art. Reputable and experienced printers work closely with the brewery’s art department and their pre-press department to get the exact look and feel of the label and packaging. All of this is preceded by the printer getting the right label material that will endure temperature variants, especially in cold and wet environments when beer is on ice, or in a cooler. Adhesion is critical for beer labels and having an experienced craft beer label printing vendor is a plus. They are familiar with the food and beverage industry regulations and know what will and won’t work. The last thing you want is for your craft beer label to slide off the can or bottle.

At Century Printing and Packaging we have been answering the call for craft breweries and distilleries in terms of high-performance labels and packaging. We are investing in the industry and learning all we can about your printing and packaging needs. We have innovative products designed specifically for craft breweries. We have years of experience running beer labels on film with a film liner, which can be applied at high speeds and is more readily available than some substrates.

Contact us today to discuss your unique printing and packaging needs! We are members of the Brewers Association.

Ben Waldrop
President
Century Printing & Packaging Greer, SC 29651
800.344.7509
(Images: Brewers Association and CPnP)

Inflation Is Hitting Every Manufacturing Sector

Everyone is feeling the pain of inflation from rising prices in goods, materials, chemicals, fuel, and supplies. Whether you serve B2B/B2C every sector is experiencing the avalanche from inflation, supply chain disruptions, Covid19, labor shortages, and a lack of available materials. A trip to the grocery store with empty shelves or purchase limits on certain products is proof enough. It is cliche, but all of these factors have produced the “perfect storm”.

Manufacturers are scrambling to find new supply lines and vendors. Shortages from food, chemicals, lumber, metals, microchips, rubber goods, paper, laminates, and countless other goods have moved businesses from a competitive price focus to sheer availability. Shortages and availability only tighten the vise grip of competing manufacturers. Auto manufacturers are now competing with consumer electronics for computer chips. Before the storm, each had different suppliers and there was no shortage. During the storm, you may produce cars, but your computer or television producer has landed in your backyard competing for the same chips.

The printing and packaging industry is not immune to this economic reality. The supply chain gridlock and inflationary pressures have created a challenging environment for the industry. Previously fully stocked vendor’s distribution centers of paper, ink, boxes, laminate, substrate materials, and film are running empty. Lead times of these materials have drastically expanded. Shipping costs due to rising fuel prices and container shortages have only added to the inflationary pressures. These dynamics are unique because the combination of factors has impacted every aspect of business regardless of category. In the past, Wall Street cycles have come and gone, but typically it’s been one industry or just a few that have experienced serious disruption and challenges. Today, EVERY industry and business is affected by these colliding factors.

The interdependency within the global economy can best be explained by dominoes falling one over the other throughout a massive display. Everything relates to the other. Loaded ships sit in harbors and can’t get unloaded, a pandemic wiped out 700,000 people in the U.S. alone to date. Many of those were workers and paying taxes. The printing and packaging industry is experiencing supply and material increases between 7-12%, if not more. Polypropylene resin has increased 150% since January of 2020, and PET resin has risen over 20% in the same period (CDI October 2021 Report). Some Industry experts are projecting continued shortages of raw material and polymers to last through Q4 2022.

No reputable and successful business enjoys price increases. Their success is built upon providing a high-quality product/service at a competitive price backed with extraordinary customer service. These companies thrive on long-term customer relationships by exceeding customer expectations. However, there is a point at which even the strongest cannot resist anymore because they start losing money.

Craig Austin writing for PBS said: “Economists surveyed by Bloomberg in October expect inflation to slow to 3.4% next summer and hit 2.6% by the end of the year. While that would be encouraging, it’s still well above the pre-pandemic average of 1.8% and outside the Fed’s target. It’s unclear whether economists are recalibrating their expectations after the October Consumer Price Index report. Regardless, consumers should get used to the higher prices. They’re the new normal.”

Smart companies and businesses are concentrating on minimizing price increases while extending their vendor partnerships to have access to the materials and supplies they need to do their jobs. Increased costs are inevitable given the global market, but smart and reputable suppliers and manufacturers are working with their clients and suppliers to keep prices as low as they can. Material and supply shortages can be expected well into 2022. Plan way ahead to get ahead of this troubling trend. Hopefully, supply, logistics, and labor will self-correct in 2022.

At Century Printing and Packaging we have worked internally to increase efficiency and deliver the same high level of quality that helped us earn our customer’s trust during these challenging days. This combination has allowed us to only raise prices on products once this year. We are well aware of the market fluctuations and we are working with our customers and suppliers to provide solutions despite price increases to supply and rising material costs. We have been printing labels that stick, but have great eye appeal and consistently tell your brand story. We don’t mind tackling a challenging problem if it means we can help you produce something that is more appealing and of higher quality. We have produced labels and packaging for almost 25 years, so trust us to work with you as a partner instead of a job number.

Ben Waldrop, President
Century Printing & Packaging
Greer, SC 29651
Tel: 800.344.7509

Craft Breweries Emerging from COVID-19

Like many industries, the craft brewery business has suffered from Covid19. As many parts of the country begin to reopen and indoor gathering rules are relaxed the industry is finding casualties that just couldn’t survive, but also a surge in creativity and innovation.

Many breweries have taprooms or restaurants that were closed for weeks and even months during the pandemic. Waiters, servers, cooks, bartenders were furloughed or terminated because there was no income/revenue to support them. Others forged ahead and supported their employees the best they could with PPP funds and other resources from the CARES Act.

No industry in the U.S. has been untouched by the economic scourge of Covid19. Record unemployment levels and a full-blown recession are still challenging small businesses like independent, family-owned, regional craft breweries.

Unlike major breweries, independent craft breweries typically don’t have large cash reserves or production quantities that can offset these challenges. Like most small businesses these breweries view their employees as a family which makes decisions even more difficult against economic realities.

The Brewers Association has conducted a series of surveys/polls of their membership during and after “stay at home” orders by state governors. Economist Bert Watson has been analyzing and interpreting the data for the month of May:

“In terms of volume growth, results are similar to what we found in early April, with a weighted estimate of total brewery sales down 30.5%. The median brewery respondent has sales that are down 50%. Note that while we had representative participation, the volume above 100,000 was far less than it is as a percentage of the full data set, so accounting for that would likely improve the total number, and I think it’s likely that if we use this survey to build a broader estimate, the total craft is likely down more like 20-25%…….Although we haven’t yet reached the three-month threshold we asked about in that survey, there has yet to be a massive surge in brewery closures. Yes, some breweries have closed, but to date, the vast majority of breweries have managed to stay in business.” (3rd Covid19 Impact Study-850 craft breweries participated)

Few small businesses can survive reduced sales of 25-50%, but through perseverance, loans, strong business plans, and creative strategies the majority have been able to tread water and are starting to float again. There are more than 8,000 craft breweries in the U.S. employing nearly 60,000 Americans. In 2018 the economic impact of craft breweries on the U.S. economy was $79B. The industry provides jobs, tax revenue for the U.S, states, and local governments.

During the pandemic closing tap and tasting rooms was a big blow, but many brewers got creative and produced hand sanitizer and drinking water for local essential industries and first responders. Others pivoted to curbside pick up and delivery which has been allowed in many states.

Sales continue to lag but there’s cautious optimism as restaurants, bars, and indoor dining resumes. Many brewers have used this time to strategically plan for the future including their marketing efforts. Intentionally examining artwork, design, logos, and brand messaging. Creative packaging and labels that stand out from the pack are critical now more than ever.

At Century Printing and Packaging we have been answering the call for craft breweries and distilleries in terms of high-performance labels and packaging. We are investing in the industry and learning all we can about your printing and packaging needs. We have innovative products designed specifically for craft breweries. As a small, family, and locally owned business we understand just how challenging Covid19 has been for small businesses and the overall economy. Contact us today to discuss your unique printing and packaging needs!

Ben Waldrop
President
Century Printing & Packaging
Greer, SC 29651
800.344.7509

(Images: Unsplash & CP&P)

Unhinge Your Brand™ with a Story-Label™

Behind every craft beer, there is a great story. Whether it’s tied to its indigenous roots/origin and how it all got started, the type of beer (IPA, stout, lager, wheat, etc.), its community of origin, family-owned, employee-owned or how the name came about there is a story waiting to be told.

Nothing communicates or resonates with consumers and customers like a story. Every person, town, company, product, sports team, family, and friend has a story to tell. Unfortunately telling your story on a product label can be an insurmountable challenge because of space limitations. You spend a lot of money, research, time and energy developing an eye-catching label to go on a great product, but due to legal labeling requirements (nutrition information, alcohol percentage, place of origin, etc.,), you have to give up much-needed space to tell your story and promote your brand.

But what if there was a label that would meet the legal requirements for craft beer and offer twice the space to tell your story? Imagine if you could “unhinge your brand™” with a Story-Label™ and provide a personal touch for consumers. You can! Century Printing and Packaging in Greer, SC, has created such a label.

This groundbreaking innovative label provides craft breweries with more space to tell their story. Imagine a consumer sitting at home, or in a bar with your beer and being able to fold out the beer label and discover your story. For example, let’s say there was a craft brewery in Elberton, Georgia (known for its granite) called “Granite Brewing”. Their product was born out of the rich history of granite from North Georgia. It could tell the story of Elberton and the surrounding areas rich in granite promoting a strong craft beer, bold taste, and locally owned. You get the idea.

These high-quality labels perform in cold and wet conditions. Century has built a strong reputation for dependable, durable, and high performing craft beer labels, nutraceuticals, CBD oil labels, etc. The flexographic labels ensure stunning colors and graphic details of your product stand out from the competition. Because the plates are made in-house the turn around time for these cutting-edge labels is fast whether you are running a few thousand or several hundred thousand. The ink used in the process is a proven water-based product that is environmentally friendly. This is a craft beer label like no other.

The Story-Label™ is a powerful customized brand marketing tool that allows you to provide engaging content for consumers and attract a bigger following for your product. What if you could feature your employees on different labels like your Master Brewer, the owner, and their family story, or something funny? What if your craft beer has a cool brand play with a mascot like a parrot, or bulldog? You could feature the story of the mascot with unique content about your brewery.

The label is like a door on hinges. You can “unhinge your brand™” and tell your story when the consumer opens it. Imagine gathering a loyal following of your labels being collected and posted in man-caves, garages, or collected like bottle caps, or cans. Your fall (Octoberfest, Harvest) or summer seasonal brew could be promoted in a way like never before. The possibilities are endless for creating engaging content driving your brand for consumers and building a loyal following.

Ben Waldrop, President
Century Printing & Packaging
800.344.7509
Email: benw@cpandp.com

The Advantage of Digital Press Labels For Beer & Beverage Co’s

The digital press has revolutionized the print label industry’s ability to print shorter label runs for beer and beverage customers without sacrificing the quality of large press runs. Previously, shorter runs were cost prohibitive on larger presses because there just weren’t enough labels produced to justify the cost.

In addition to cost savings without sacrificing quality, the digital press produces labels that stick no matter how cold, wet, bulky, or leafy the product. The digital press enables companies like Century Printing and Packaging to provide high-quality, affordable labels for the craft beer and beverage market.

Label appearance for craft, or niche beverages is critical in terms of product appeal, perceived freshness and taste. Nobody wants an inferior label that hinders the point of purchase decision and falls off, or peels when the product is cold, or wet after purchase.

Our Mark Andy Digital One press is a simple and compact resource that allows us to free up capacity on our higher output presses and produce high quality labels for beer and beverage runs with a faster turnaround ensuring the priority of your label production. The 4-color CMYK, hybrid spot with in-line flexographic and air-cooled, UV LED drying enables us to produce dynamic labels that meet industry compliance standards and exceed customer expectations.

Craft beer, beverage and small breweries produce some of the best products in the country, and they work very hard to create them, but if their labels do not meet the consumer appeal eye-test, they will never be fully discovered. Digital press labels for cold beverages are not only made to stick, they cover the end-cap, beer & beverage aisle appeal by standing out among the competition. You can have a phenomenal product, but you can lose sales to an inferior product by the competition because they have a better looking and lasting labels. You get one chance to make a first impression and a high quality label that sticks can make the difference!