U.S. beer volume sales declined 0.5 percent while total beer dollar sales increased 1.1 percent for the whole year through December 3, reported Chicago-based market research firm IRI Worldwide. This was mainly due to national premium beer brands like Budweiser, Bud Light, Miller Lite and Coors Light, which dropped in volume sales by 3.9%, while dollar sales declined “only” by 3%.
Following the trend of the last years, craft beer sales were increasing in the same period. Volume sales of craft beer grew 3.6% while dollar sales went even higher up by 5.5%.
In contrast to the years before not the whole craft beer market could experience growth. Especially several well-known major national „craft beer“ brands got into trouble.
Hardest hit was New Belgium Fat Tire Amber Ale (-12.5%) followed by Samuel Adams Boston Lager (-11.3%), Sierra Nevada Pale Ale (-9.2%), AB InBev’s Shock Top Belgian White (-7.9%) and Sierra Nevada’s Torpedo Extra IPA (-5.4%).
The slide in their iconic brands also hurt the breweries themselves, which often had to record negative sales for the first 11 month of 2017. Dollar sales of North American Breweries owned by Costa Rica’s Florida Ice & Farm Co. with companies like Labatt USA, Genesee Brewing, Pyramid, and Magic Hat declined by 6.9%. Sierra Nevada, a pioneer in craft brewing, Deschutes Brewery and AB InBev’s Craft Brew Alliance (with breweries like Redhook Ale Brewery, Widmer Brothers Brewery and Kona Brewing Co.) all went down by 5.5%, 5.4% and 5.3% respectively.
On the other hand others clearly outperformed the market. Founders Brewing Co., in which Spain’s Mahou-San Miguel Group holds a 30% stake, went up a whooping 43.2% in dollar sales and 51.9% in volume.
Others with double digit dollar growth include Bell’s Brewery (+19.2%), Firestone Walker (+16.8%), Sweetwater Brewing (+15.8%), Stone Brewing and Dogfish Head Brewing (both +14.8%) and New Glarus (+11.2 percent).
Lagunitas, fully owned by Heineken after the Dutch brewer bought the remaining shares in May 2017 (inside-beer, 6.5.2017) did not make it into the top group but was first in the chasing pack with a dollar sales growth of 9.8%.
New Belgium, despite the problems with its brand New Belgium Fat Tire Amber Ale, was still able to grow by 6.1% in terms of dollar sales.