U.S. Light Beer Consumption Declines as Craft and Import Beer Sales Surge

by TMR Newswire on September 29, 2012

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It was another year of declines for the beer industry. Heightened competition from other beverage alcohol segments, high unemployment rates among core consumers and a struggling economy contributed to the loss. According to the recently released Beverage Information Group’s 2012 Beer Handbook, the overall beer industry lost 35.6 million 2.25 gallon cases – a 1.3% decline – to end the year at 2.787 billion cases.

Consumers are gravitating to the wine and spirits industries with their new product offerings such as flavored vodkas, category-crossing whiskey liqueurs, sweet reds and high-end blends. Meanwhile, domestic beer saw declines due to its lack of innovation and ability to connect with consumers. With the largest segment, Light beer, losing 39.2 million 2.25-gallon cases, the other beer segments could not make up for the loss. The Craft and Imported beer segments’ continued success helped to offset some of the overall industries’ declines, but could not fix the problem.

According to the Beer Handbook, Imported beer also saw an increase of 1.3% in 2011, and is projected to climb. Consumers are increasingly drawn to imports due to the wide variety of high-end products available, as consumers are trading back up to more premium brands.

The growth in the Craft and Imported beer categories seen over the years is expected to continue, with Imports projected to grow at a slightly slower rate. It remains to be seen if they can offset the declines in the domestic categories. Unemployment rates, economic uncertainty, rising commodity and fuel costs all impact beer pricing structure and therefore, volume.

“We are looking to the Craft segment to continue to spur growth in the beer industry,” says Adam Rogers, senior analyst for the Beverage Information Group, Norwalk, Conn. “Consumer interest is at its peak and there is unlimited potential for growth as more craft brewers enter the marketplace.”

The cost of the 2012 Beer Handbook is $775; handbook with companion CD is $975. Shipping and handling is $15 for U.S. orders; $25 for all other orders. The handbook and CD can be purchased at www.bevinfostore.com or by calling Cynthia Porter at (630) 762-8709.

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