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Thread: Distribution Projections

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    Lebanon, VA, US
    Posts
    3

    Distribution Projections

    Hey! We are a start up brewery in Southwest Virginia. I'm in the process of putting the final touches on my business plan and I really need some guidance on distribution. I know that it is getting harder and harder to break into the distribution world as a craft brew, but it can't be impossible?? Local breweries don't want to share information due to competition, distributors don't want to provide specifics because they don't want to make a commitment. I just want to know what are some reasonable numbers and attainable case equivalences that I can put into my business plan for distribution. Can anyone give me some guidance or suggestions? I'm not married only to Virginia, we want to do multi state distribution eventually. Any help would be greatly appreciated!!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Huntsville, AL
    Posts
    263
    First of all, they are called "case equivalents." I'm going to assume you don't know what that means. There are about 13.7 cases (24/12oz) in a "barrel" of beer (31 gallons). Breweries generally like to measure beer in barrels, distributors in case equivalents.

    Secondly, good job in at least providing your location. It never ceases to amaze me the questions people ask on PB as if there's a cystal ball, without providing any information as to base the answer on. What I mean is, your answer will vary depending on what styles of beer you are making. Hipster beer like sours and barrel aged? German lagers? 2 Week ales? Also, the package size could matter. 16oz cans, 12oz bottles, magnums... I suppose your name and branding will matter too. Is it something geographic and uninteresting to anyone not familiar with it like Smith Mountain Lake Brewery? Is it something very stupid, dull and unimaginative like 4 friends brewery? Is the branding cohesively themed or are the beer names all over the place like that stupid one near you I'm referring to. Or is it something well thought out that would make sense in most of the 50 states... Are you going to have a rep working with your distributor or are you going to ship beer to any distrib in any state who will take you and expect them to sell it on their own, also like that idiot near you...

    Here's your answer... You will sell as much beer as you go out and sell yourself.

    I have a feeling you just learned a lot... You sure that plan is in it's final touch up stage? Feel free to send it to me for a free analysis. I have worked distributors in at least 20 states I can think of from coast to coast. I also have some distributor and retail connections in VA. (NY to NC for that matter) I almost built my own (third) brewery there 2 years ago.

    Cheers man, and best wishes

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2016
    Location
    Texas
    Posts
    12

    Same boat

    Quote Originally Posted by Wicked Cedar View Post
    Hey! We are a start up brewery in Southwest Virginia. I'm in the process of putting the final touches on my business plan and I really need some guidance on distribution. I know that it is getting harder and harder to break into the distribution world as a craft brew, but it can't be impossible?? Local breweries don't want to share information due to competition, distributors don't want to provide specifics because they don't want to make a commitment. I just want to know what are some reasonable numbers and attainable case equivalences that I can put into my business plan for distribution. Can anyone give me some guidance or suggestions? I'm not married only to Virginia, we want to do multi state distribution eventually. Any help would be greatly appreciated!!
    We're in the same boat. We did some research on distributors and contacted our top two favorites. Only one replied. So, we set up a meeting with them and ran through our projections to get their feedback. I recommend doing some research through your local ABC and determining the number of retail outlets you will be able to service. Then, go talk to a few retail outlet owners or managers. Ask them which beers sell and rough quantities. You'll be surprised how may bartenders get excited when you order a craft beer and then talk beer with them. Once you feel a somewhat confident in your numbers, convert them to case equivalents and present them to your distributor of choice. The goal of the meeting is just to have them tell you if your numbers are in the realm of correctness. NOT to acquire information from them. Also, don't march into the meeting like you're shopping for distributors, its far too early. Put them on a pedestal. Distributors think their shit doesn't stink, and there's no sense in acting like it does.

    GOOD LUCK!

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