New Report has Confirmed Craft Breweries Are Thriving

A brand new report has confirmed that the North American premium beer market remains sluggish as the effects of the economic slump continue to be felt.

With sales of 6.42m kl in 2011, North America is the world’s second largest consumer of premium beer but growth has been dampened by the prevailing ‘state of stagnation’, falling consumer spending and high unemployment among the core young working-class male market.

The report entitled ‘Premium Beer in North America – Forecast to 2016’ is the second in a series and was published earlier this week by IWSR and It confirms that ‘US lobbyist the Beer Institute declared a 2% year-on-year rise in total retail beer sales to US$98bn.’

Looking Strong at 5.7%…

Also revealed is the fact that this growth is largely attributable to the thriving craft beers. This rapidly emerging sector is defined by independent, traditional and small producers brewing less than 5m barrels or 845,573kl of beer per annum.

Interestingly, consumers now appear to be shunning mass-produced, medium-quality lagers and are showing an increasing preference for the alternative, higher-quality and unique-tasting brands marketed by microbrewers. So much so that craft breweries now command a 5.7% share of the total US beer market.

This trend was endorsed by one executive with Boston Beer who explained, ‘We’re lucky to be in the middle of a big growth curve for craft beer and I’m glad to see the industry growing. Craft beer is entering the mainstream.’

Diversification a Successful Recipe for the Major Players…

Elsewhere, the top four brewers have been forced to adapt and innovate after being presented with challenging conditions since the downturn began in 2008.

Each has diversified into new markets and new product ranges. Budding local breweries have been acquired, flagship brands licensed out to contract brewers and prominent marketing and sponsorship initiatives deployed to quickly establish new brands.

The larger manufacturers have also sought to emulate the success of the craft breweries by coaxing regular customers away from mainstream brands and towards their premium offerings.

Despite its recent problems, the industry does remain optimistic, and a SABMiller executive summed up the views of many producers when commenting that ‘no business or industry should expect to return to the previous status quo of yesteryear but we do believe that the US beer market will return to growth.’

Read the full report: ‘Premium Beer in North America – Forecast to 2016’ at just-drinks.


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