US beer volume falls 1.4% year-over-year to 2.8 billion 2.25-gallon cases in 2013, Technomic says; craft beer production up 9.6% to 195 million cases, now has 7% of total beer market
February 10, 2014
– Consumer demand for craft beers continued to rise in 2013, but not enough to keep overall beer demand from going flat.
As a result, total U.S. beer volume sold in the U.S. fell slightly (1.4%) to 2.8 billion 2.25-gallon cases, compared to 2.84 billion in 2012, according to market tracking firm Technomic.
Craft beer production grew 9.6% to capture 7% of the total beer market, according to Technomic's 2014 Special Trends in Adult Beverage Report: State of the Industry report, due out soon.
The results continue a trend of recent years of craft beer grabbing more of the total beer market. After making up 5.5% of the total beer volume in 2011, craft beer increased to 6.3% in 2012.
Naturally, spending on craft beer has risen, too, accounting for 8.5% of the $62.3 billion spent on beer in 2012, up from 7.5% of 2011's $60 billion market, Technomic says. The firm is still finalizing its sales figures for 2013.
Light beer, still the largest beer category making up 50% of U.S. beers, took the biggest hit, percentage-wise, with volume falling 3.5% to 1.4 billion cases. Mainstream domestic beer volume fell 2.4% to 560 million cases.
Craft beer volume rose nearly 10% to 195 million cases from 178 million. That's a result of many consumers, especially millennials, seeking more from beers, says Donna Hood Crecca, senior director of Technomic's adult beverage resource group. "In beer we are seeing people moving toward more flavorful, more unique styles and brands," she says. "Consumers are really interested in exploring beer and getting into different flavor profiles and things that are compatible with different foods."
Interest in craft beer is part of the locally-produced food and drink movement that includes wine and spirits. As demand as increased, more breweries have opened with more than 2.530 operating as of June 2013, the highest total since the 1880s, according to the Brewers Association.
A vast majority (98%) of those are microbreweries, brewpubs and regional breweries. "People are interested in food that is produced locally, handcrafted or organic, something that makes it unique and gives it a different dynamic," Crecca says.
Meanwhile, economic factors have cut into sales of mainstream beers, she says. "The core consumer of the major beer brands was among those hardest hit by the recession and some of them changed their consumption and purchase behaviors," Crecca says.
While increased sales of higher-priced craft beer might run counter to that, "it really points to people looking for authenticity and hand-crafted product," she says. "Some of the thinking also is that, 'Hey, if I'm going to indulge and have a beer, I want to make it a really good and interesting beer.' So they are willing to spend on the craft."
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