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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

National Craft Brewing Numbers (*)

Craft brewing sales were up in 2009--a remarkable fact given how bad the economy was. This story has been circulating for a few days now (and was even reported on OPB this morning). Some of the facts, bullet-style:
  • Sales in craft beer were up 7.2% by volume and 10.3% by sales--exceeding the rate of growth in 2008;
  • Overall beer sales fell 2.2%, and sales on imports fell 9.8% (but, keep in mind that Stella Artois, Corona, and Heineken are imports, not just brands like Cantillon and Fuller's);
  • Craft breweries produced 9.1 million barrels, but still enjoy only a modest 4.3% of the total beer market.
This is of course good news--and way better than the alternative. But looking at numbers in the aggregate conceals the performance of individual breweries--and based on murmurs I heard, there was substantial volatility. We'll get a fuller report in April, and then we'll have a better sense of how things are going.

Update. As an example, Boston Beer missed its sales goals for the fourth quarter. Barrels sales dropped 14% in Q4 compared with the same quarter a year earlier. It's only one data point--but a pretty big one.
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1 comment:

Stan Hieronymus said...

Hard to tell what the Boston Beer numbers might mean, given the full details:

"Barrels sold dropped 14%, but core shipment volume was up 5% to 528,000 barrels. A company spokeswoman said core shipments exclude volume produced for Diageo PLC (DGE.LN, DEO) under a now-ended pact."

One other data point: IRI reported that 2010 (January) started much as 2009 finished for craft brewers - that is very strong.

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