Packaging Tips and Misses – and Liability


It’s hard enough running a brewery or brew pub without issues with packaging, but they frequently occur—even among the big manufacturers. Recently, two of the world’s largest brewers suffered recalls. For Corona, small bits of glass were detected in-house, with no outside issues.

For Carlton, the SABMiller brand, the issue was also glass in the beer, but this time the glass caused cuts.  The recall totaled 1 million bottles.

Glass chips aren’t the only thing that craft brewers have to fear in the packaging process. Cans may have improper internal coatings, seams sometimes separate and materials may not meet proper tolerances. Packaging machines can damage the containers too.  For a large brewer, it’s a headache and a write-down. For a microbrewer, it could spell the end of their business.

Liability to customers isn’t the only issue here. If you lose product, that’s a tremendous cost of ingredients, time, labor, energy and wear on equipment. Transportation costs can factor in too, depending upon when the issue is discovered. There is also time and money lost while production is idle and no new product is being produced.  For many brewers, despite good process controls, preventive maintenance, thorough training and their best efforts, an issue like this is more likely a question of ‘When?’ not ‘If?’

Insurance can help you keep the head on your beer. If you package your beer, here are some coverages you should ensure you have in place—just in case your facility or supplier has an issue:

·         Crisis Event Expense

·         Equipment Breakdown

·         General Liability

·         Product Contamination/Product Recalls

You can read about these and other coverages at the Insurance People Microbrewers and Distiller’s Safety Group web site. There’s a brief explanation of each one.

Meanwhile, on the positive side, here are 10 packaging and manufacturing tips from famed craft brewers about packaging. Here’s to your success!