USA.: Beer sales fall by 3.56% in the first quarter

The Alcohol, Tobacco, Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) has released the newest sales figures for beer in the United States for the first quarter 2018. Cumulative beer production in the first three month of 2018 amounted to 43,27 million barrels (50.78 million hl) a decline of roughly 1.6 million barrels (1,9 million hl, -3.56%) compared to the same period last year. Total removals showed an even worse performance with a decline of roughly 1.7 million barrels (2.0 million hl, -4.14%) to 39,62 million barrels (46.49 million hl).

The decline is even worse than last year’s figures (-2.2%), which saw “the largest percentage decrease in annual domestic beer shipment volume since 1954,” as Michael Uhrich, chief economist of the Beer Institute put it. (, 12.2.2018)

The results are in line with the first quarter results of the major brewing companies in the US. AB InBev saw a 4.1% drop in the first quarter, Molson Coors a 3.8% drop and Heineken reported a “high-single-digit percentage” drop.

Reasons are said to be the change in consumption especially with the younger generation. Consumers increasingly turn to other alcoholic beverages like wine or whiskey or refrain totally from drinking alcohol. In 2010, 48.2% of all alcohol consumed was beer, dropping to 45.6% in 2017. Meanwhile, the market share of spirits increased from 29.6% in 2010 to 31.7% in 2017. Wine stood unchanged at 19.7% over the course of seven years.

While in former years the decline in mainstream beers was offset by increasing craft beer sales, the sale of the latter has also slowed recently.  However, sales of imported beers are not shown in the statistics which might distort the results.

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