But craft and imported brews grow, and consumers say they’d pay extra for a sustainable brew
By NACS Online – October 15, 2018
The beer category suffered in 2017, with total volume falling 1.1% to 2.8 billion 2.25-gallon cases, according to the Beverage Information Group’s 2018 Beer Handbook. Total beer consumption has declined for five consecutive years, as U.S. consumers imbibe more spirits and wine.
During 2017, craft and imported beers saw growth and increased market share. The craft beer segment grew 4.9% to 310 million cases. While craft beer’s growth has slowed from 6% for the past two years, the category pushed its market share to 11.1% in 2017, up from 10.4% in 2016 and 9.8% in 2015. Still, oversaturation in some local/regional markets has hurt craft beer. Industry experts say U.S. consumers have never been more experimental or less brand-loyal.
In 2017, the imported beer segment was up 3.5% to 470.7 million 2.25-gallon cases, a market share boost of 16.8%. Beers from Mexico continue to thrive because consumers see them as a step up in flavor and quality from macro U.S. lagers.
Flavored malt beverages were up 1.3% with 112.3 million cases. The category’s growth has cooled considerably, as it was fueled largely by gains in the Bud Light Rita’s line, which slowed recently.
Beer segments that have dropped include light beer, down 3.1% in 2017 to 1.22 billion cases; popular beer, down 2.5% to 180.9 million cases; super-premium and premium beers, down 3.7% to 371.5 million cases and malt liquor, down 4.3% to 52.8 million cases. These segments of the beer category don’t represent the current trend of “craft” or “premium” beverages.
On a side note, a majority of U.S. beer drinkers say they’d pay more for beer produced with sustainable practices, according to a new study from Indiana University and reported by Fooddive.com.
Researchers say that the beer industry has “considerable potential” for reducing energy use and mitigating its impact on climate change. Some breweries already have added solar panels, installed on-site wastewater treatment plants, insulated brewing vessels and recaptured steam from the brewing process.
The Indiana University study revealed that consumers who already pay more for their beer were the most willing to pay a premium for sustainability. In addition, they were likely to report lifestyle activities associated with the common good, such as doing volunteer work, recycling, composting and buying locally produced food and products. There was no significant correlation between the type of beer that consumers preferred and their willingness to pay more for sustainability.