Beer Sales Rising

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFall means football, Octoberfest and, subsequently, beer. The good news for brewers: Beer sales are rising again. The economic downturn and a movement by the Millennials away from beer toward wine and other spirits caused beer sales to lag. However, according to USA Today’sBeer sales starting to foam up,” the industry’s downward trend has reversed, posting both volume and sales gains in the U.S.

The Wall Street Journal cited similar statistics last year noting that beer sales were rising for the first time since 2008, particularly in a prime demographic – young men, particularly blue-collar twenty-somethings who suffered economic beatings resulting from the downturns in their employment industries.

In the WSJ article, “After Long Downturn, Beer Sales Are Back,” David Almeida, vice president of sales at Anheuser-Busch InBev (that has nearly a 50 percent market share), notes that its sales are affected disproportionately by that particular demographic.

Craft Beer Sales Growing

Craft beer sales are a driving force in the industry logging 14.4 percent growth and accounting for 6.3 percent of total beer sales, according to Technomic (as quoted in the USA Today article). The Brewers Association reports additional increases for the first half of 2013 with volume up by 13 percent and sales up by 15 percent, according to Time Business, “Big Beer’s Sales Slump – And Yet Profits Rise.”

Additionally, MediaPost’s Marketing Daily,Craft Beer Sales Continue to Rise,” also supports the meteoric growth of craft beer sales, noting that sales more than doubled between 2007 and 2012 with an increase from $5.7 billion to $12 billion. The forecast through 2017 is equally positive with growth anticipated to reach $18 billion by 2017. The growth of craft beer sales, although a small segment of the overall beer industry, is credited with reversing and stabilizing the downward trend.

Big Brewers Working to Compete

Big brewers are taking note and working to tap the changing palette of consumers and the craft-beer growth phenomenon. Anheuser-Busch InBev acquired Goose Island and Shock Top to compete and are seeing double-digit growth in those lines. Additionally, its Bud Light is seeing growth for the first time in four years, attributed to Bud Light Platinum and Bud Light Lime-a-Rita.

The story is similar at MillerCoors. The brewer’s Blue Moon and Leinenkugel brands have recorded double-digit growth. Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy led the way with an increase in shipments of 70 percent last year. Summer Shandy outsells all other Leinenkugel brands combined. The “shandy” mixes beer and soda or lemonade… again underscoring the changing palette of consumers.

Large and small brewers alike can raise a pint and toast the fact that beer sales are rising again.

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