Drinking craft beer good for P.E.I. economy

Dave Stewart
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Peter Toombs, president of Diversified Metal Engineering Ltd. in Charlottetown, says the company has 70 different projects for clients around the world on the go right now.

Drinking locally made craft beer creates jobs in P.E.I.

Diversified Metal Engineering (DME) in Charlottetown is trying to keep up with the demand for craft brewery equipment, which it designs and fabricates at its three plants in the West Royalty Industrial Park.

Peter Toombs, president of DME, says the global beer industry is changing dramatically, going though a transformation not seen since the post prohibition days.

"Pre-prohibition there were thousands of breweries and post prohibition it collapsed down to a very few breweries. There was a lot of consolidation,'' Toombs said.

By the early 1970s, he says there were less than 100 breweries. By the early 1980s, craft beer came into vogue and the cycle began to reverse.

"It has collapsed down to more of a regional focus where people are making high quality products using labour and materials are found locally.

Craft beer is just beginning to take off in P.E.I. but it's soaring in other jurisdictions.

To use on U.S. city as an example, craft beer accounts for more than half the beer sales in Portland, Oregon. Across the United States, it accounts for 20 per cent of beer sales.

Toombs said large traditional breweries are consolidating.

Today, DME is designing and fabricating craft brewery equipment for close to 80 breweries around the world.

DME operates three plants in Charlottetown with plans for more. It has close to 150 on the payroll in Charlottetown, another 100 in China and 40 in India, simply because it can't keep up with the demand at its Charlottetown plants.

Toombs said with a little bit of good fortune and continued success, there will be more jobs created here.

dstewart@theguardian.pe.ca

Twitter.com/DveStewart

Geographic location: Charlottetown, P.E.I., West Royalty Industrial Park United States Portland, Oregon China India

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