November 20, 2018

San Diego Craft Beer Impact: 6,200 jobs, economic impact $1.1 billion

san diego craft beer marketing

San Diego’s independent craft brewing industry continues to be a powerhouse in the region, with an economic impact of about $1.1 billion in output and $802 million in revenue in 2017. Made possible by California State University San Marcos (CSUSM) Office of Business Research and Analysis, in collaboration with the San Diego Brewers Guild (SDBG), the 2018 Economic Impact of Craft Breweries in San Diego County Report is now available. The full, 20-page report includes information about craft brewers’ employment numbers, monetary philanthropic contributions and confidence in continued industry growth, which all indicate San Diego craft beer is on track for further success and prosperity.

More than 900 independent breweries were operating in the state of California at the end of 2017, with 130-plus craft brewing locations operating in San Diego County alone. As San Diego craft brewers continue expanding production from 900,000 barrels in 2016 to 1.1 million barrels in 2017, a roughly 22 percent increase, a larger workforce was needed to facilitate that growth. The report found that a total effect of 6,275 jobs and a combined labor income of $171.3 million came from San Diego craft brewers in 2017.

Key Data Points:

  • Nationwide, craft beer retail dollar sales increased 8 percent to $26 billion during 2017. This sales figure represents 23 percent of the $111.4 billion national beer market.
  • San Diego still ranks as the top county in the nation with more than 130 independent craft brewing locations.
  • San Diego County craft brewers produced over 1.1 million barrels (bbl) of beer during 2017, up from 900,000-bbl during 2016.
  • San Diego County craft brewers produced an economic impact of about $1.1 billion in output for 2017, up from $870 million in output during 2016. This number represents a greater total economic output than Balboa Park and all of its associated activities (i.e. museums, attractions, convention activities, the zoo, etc.) in San Diego.
  • San Diego County craft brewers generated about $802 million in revenue for 2017, up from $638 million during 2016. In comparison, the San Diego Padres generated about $259 million in revenue.
  • Recent decreases in federal beer excise taxes have freed dollars for craft brewers to reinvest in their businesses and in the community.
  • San Diego independent craft brewers’ philanthropic contributions totaled an estimated $4.9 million in 2017, supporting more than 200 nonprofit organizations in the county and 500-plus nonprofit organizations in California.
  • The report found a total effect of 6,275 jobs and combined labor income of $171.3 million came from San Diego craft brewers in 2017.
  • All breweries surveyed anticipated an increase in production, distribution and capital expenditures during 2018. These values indicate that craft brewers in San Diego County are optimistic about the future growth and development of their operations.

“San Diego’s independent brewers are committed to giving back to the community and helping fuel our local economy,” said San Diego Brewers Guild Executive Director Paige McWey. “As we’ve seen from the study conducted by CSUSM, this includes employing thousands of citizens in their communities. Giving back is such a huge part of the craft brewing culture, whether it be through philanthropy, boosting economies or providing jobs. By supporting local independent brewers and their small businesses, you’re showing your support for all three of those efforts.”

Major philanthropic contributions reflect the importance craft brewers place on supporting their local communities. In 2017, San Diego independent craft brewers donated an estimated $4.9 million to nonprofit organizations, translating to an average donation of 1.35 percent of gross revenue. These totals represent the support of more than 200 nonprofit organizations in the county and 500-plus nonprofit organizations statewide, including those sectors related to environment and community, medical and health, education, and more.

In addition, each semester, CSUSM conducts surveys regarding the overall confidence level of local craft brewers. Using a confidence diffusion index, students determine overall increases or decreases in confidence levels. Since the first survey took place in fall 2015, confidence in the San Diego County craft beer industry has remained high, with anticipations of hiring and investment increases, as well as confidence in production and distribution volume growth, continuing into 2018. The next Craft Brewers Confidence Index will be updated and released later this year.

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