Craft Brew Sales Surges!

The Beer on FireLast week Advertising Age shared an article showing the state of American Beer sales. It was unfortunate to see but apparently the American mainstream beer manufacturers are seeing a slump in sales.  The article shows a general decline in sales across all the major players in the American Beer scene.

From the article:

The latest bad news came from Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world’s largest brewer, which on Tuesday reported a 4.1% drop in sales to U.S. retailers for the first quarter ending in March. Sales for MillerCoors brands, meanwhile, dropped 3.3% in the quarter, parent company SABMiller recently reported, while Heineken USA sales were down by low-single digits. The only big beer marketer reporting gains was Corona-seller Crown Imports, but the importer’s sales were only up slightly, Beer Marketer’s Insights recently reported.

April doesn’t seem to be going much better. The beer business is down 2.8% for the four weeks through April 13, Beer Marketer’s insights reported last week, citing Nielsen. Miller Lite was down by 8.8% in the period, while Bud Light sank by 6%. Budweiser plummeted by 7.7%, Beer Marketer’s reported. Even Coors Light — which has been growing consistently in recent years — declined by 1.8%.

“It’s brutal out there for everyone,” Beer Business Daily said in a note to subscribers this morning.

The article cites Harry Schuhmacher, editor of Beer Business Daily as claiming that the unseasonably cool 2013 thus far is the cause for reduced sales.  Harry is quoted as saying that “Light lagers [like Bud Light and Miller Lite] are more susceptible to unseasonably cold weather than either craft beer or spirits, which are typically imbibed more indoors.”

In general the article cites a plethora of possible causes for the decrease in sales but none that seemed wholly convincing.  While Americas most popular beers are generally light lagers best consumed almost ice-cold this doesn’t mean that craft beers aren’t equally effected by similar environmental changes.  Beer loyalty should encourage a fan of Bud Light to want to drink an ice cold Bud regardless of climate or location.

Carlos Brito, A-V InBev CEO, blamed payroll tax increases, delays in tax refunds, and higher gasoline prices as also contributing to the slump.  Basically anything that might tighten the wallets of consumers and decrease the amount of disposable income.

The article conversely shows that craft beer sales are continuously growing despite the same alleged negative effects slumping mass market beer sales.  One would imagine that a more expensive alternative to the major beers would be more effected by these externalities but the opposite is true.

So while the major producers are suggesting that sales are down for factors outside their control I think the evidence is clear that America is in the midst of a craft brew Renaissance and consumers are more interested in a higher quality product.

And who can argue with that kind of demand.  So keep it up craft brew enthusiasts!