A survey on the performance of the Italian brewing companies
From Firenze University Press Journal: Italian Review of Agricultural Economics (REA)
Iacopo Bernetti, Department of Agriculture, Food, Environment and Forestry, University of Florence
Veronica Alampi Sottini, Department of Agriculture, Food, Environment and Forestry, University of Florence
Maria Cipollaro, Department of Agriculture, Food, Environment and Forestry, University of Florence
Silvio Menghini, Department of Agriculture, Food, Environment and Forestry, University of Florence
In the last ten years, the Italian beer sector hasshowed a rapid growth (Aquilani et al., 2015; Donadini et al., 2016; Donadini, Porretta, 2017; Fastigi et al., 2018; Garavaglia, 2018).In 2015 the sector involved 649 companies, including multinationals, industrial and craft breweries, counting a total of 7,893employees (Chamber of Commerce, 2018). Between 2015 and the end of 2017, the number of production units increased by 55% (1,008 firms), while the number of employees increased by 16% (9,128 people) in the same period.The significant growth that has affected the sector in terms of both production units and workforce is almost entirely related to the proliferation of craft microbreweries, which produce unfiltered and non-pasteurized craft products with heterogeneous beer styles characterized by exclusive reci-pes. According to statistics from both the Italian Chambers of Commerce and professional associations, in 2017, 91% of the firms counted less than10 employees each. In detail, 52% of the total number offirms counted only one employee, while companies with 50 or more employees were 1.4% of the total (Unionbirrai ObiArt, 2018).
The rapid growth of microbreweries in Italy is not an isolated phenomenon on the European and inter-national panorama (Colen, Swinnen, 2010; Garavaglia, 2018). It is a consequence of the microbreweries movement, born in the US in the 1970s (Carrol, Swaminathan, 2000; Swaminathan, 1998; Tremblay et al., 2005), which spread rather quickly over other continents, including Europe, in the following two decades (Fanelli, 2018; Fastigi et al., 2018; Fastigi, Cavanaugh, 2017; Fastigi et al., 2019; Garavaglia, 2018; Howard, 2010).The phenomenon is the result of competitive forces acting on the sector at a global level (Argent, 2018). As in other countries, the growth of small craft breweries in Italy has also responded to the needs of a demand increasingly focused on both quantity and quality. In particular, the development of large multinational industrial groups supported growth in terms of quantity, while the demand for higher quality products accentuated the development of residual market niches, able to meet the tastes of an ever-increasing number of educated consumers (Donadini et al., 2016; Garavaglia, 2009; Garavaglia, 2018).The aim of this paper is to carry out an analysis of the performance of Italian craft breweries according to the scientific literature that deals with the performance of small and medium enterprises in the manufacturing sector, with a focus on the food and beverage industry (Blackburn et al., 2013; Charoenrat, Harvie, 2014; Dimara et al., 2008; Pilar et al., 2018). A methodological approach that took into account the different aspects that contribute to defining company performance was implemented (Sellers Rubio, 2010) for the analysis of the craft beer sector in Italy.
A multidimensional concept of «performance» was adopted, which evaluated the performance of a sample of companies operating in the craft sector in terms of profit-ability, productivity and efficiency.The analysis of the performance of the companies operating in the Italian craft beer segment is extremely important, as the concept of performance is closely linked to that of survival. To achieve high performance levels is the fundamental prerequisite for the growth and survival of the small Italian brewing companies. Smaller companies are less likely to survive than large ones, especially if their birth and growth are linked to the development of new technologies or new products (Brock, Evans, 1989), as in the case of «craft beer». Moreover, the economic situation of the beer market calls for the development of analyses focusing on the craft beer company’s performance, as in the next few years the reduction of both company costs and final product prices will become fundamental objectives for-breweries.
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