BEEr Begins A-Buzzin’ Again For First Time Since Banking Collapse
For the first time since 2008, beer shipments are back on track signalling that young men are getting their finances in order in the new, austere US and beginning to splurge a bit on escapism. In the first eight months of 2012, after having fallen for three straight years, beer shipments in the US rose 1.9% to 141.1 million barrels in the first eight months of 2012, according to the Beer Institute. Beer sales had fallen 1.5% in 2011. Still, Americans were drinking more beer despite that brewers had increased prices through the recession, unlike wine and liquor companies.
The rebound is being driven by small-batch “craft” brewers, reflecting a decentralization within the beer community and forcing dominant players like Anheuser Busch and MillerCoors to take on the branding of the microbreweries. The big players will also be introducing alternative malt beverages after liquor companies won drinkers over the breweries. Anheuser Busch (BUD) is up 45% YTD. One of the reasons cited for the downside in the beer market over recent years is the plight of the blue-collar male in their 20s.
In a state where blue collar jobs are sufficient in numbers, North Dakota, where the unemployment rate is officially 3% due to an energy-sector boom, beer shipments were up 18% through August in North Dakota.
The data contributed also demonstrates Americans are moving away from traditional American lager to sample ales, porters, wheat beers and India Pale Ale’s from small breweries. The number of breweries in the US topped 2,000 this year for the first time since the late 19th century, and another 1,300 are in early stages of planning, according to the Brewers Association, which represents craft brewers.
Craft beer sales rose 12% in volume to 6 million barrels in the first half of 2012, according to the Brewers Association, which represents craft brewers. The association estimated craft beer represented 6% of US beer market by volume and 9% in dollar terms last year. Petaluma, California’s Lagunitas Brewing Co.’s sales are up 40% this year, and the company is planning to spend $25 million to convert a 300,000 square foot steel fabrication plant in Chicago into a second brewery anticipated to open next year. It’s top seller is a hop-heavy Indian Pale Ale.
Americans have shifted away from the big brewers, although the big brewers have kept the consuming public in their net. Anheuser Busch’s Good Island and Shock Top are posting double-digit growth currently, as is MillerCoors’ Blue Moon and Leinenkugel’s.