USA: Craft beer boom is over

The craft beer boom in the USA has finally come to an end. For the first time since the mid-1980s, sales of small and independent brewers did not grow in volume. The production in 2022 amounted to 29.0 million hectoliters (24.3m barrels), which is slightly less than the 29.6 million hectoliters (24.8m barrels) a year before, according to figures released by the Brewers Association based in Boulder, Colorado.

Openings decreased for a second consecutive year, with the continued decline reflecting a more mature market. Still, the number of operating craft breweries continued to climb in 2022, reaching an all-time high of 9,552, including 2,035 microbreweries, 3,418 brewpubs, 3,838 taproom breweries, and 261 regional craft breweries.

The total U.S. operating brewery count was 9,709, up from 9,384 in 2021. Throughout the year, there were 549 new brewery openings and 319 closings. The closing rate increased in 2022 but continued to remain relatively low, at approximately 3%.

The overall beer market shrank 3% by volume in 2022, craft’s overall beer market share by volume grew to 13.2%, slightly up from 13.1% the previous year. Retail dollar value was estimated at USD 28.46 billion, representing a 24.6% market share and 6% growth over 2021.

This growth, however, is not a sign of strength but can be attributed to higher pricing, partly due to increased costs, a share shift to smaller brewers—who are more likely to sell onsite and via distributed draught—as well as the continued channel shift back to on-premise, which has a higher average retail value.

“2022 presented small brewers with a number of challenges, including rising operating and material costs and increasing competition, particularly in distribution,” said Bart Watson, Chief Economist, Brewers Association. “In this maturing and competitive market, collective growth for the category is hard to come by.”

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