Quarterly beer sales have been disappointing for American brewers. Especially craft brewers, who were used to success face currently hard times. Exponential growth of craft beer as seen in the 20 years before has dramatically slowed in years 2015 and 2016 and even reversed in the last 13 weeks. Craft-beer sales and volumes both dropped, by 0.7% and 1.5%, respectively in the last quarter to June 17th, according to a report in The Economist. The newspaper quotes Trevor Stirling of research firm Sanford C. Bernstein: “The start of the year has been as bad as I can remember.”
The article attributes the drop to the proliferating number of craft-beer brands, which may have reached its limit and the growing consumption of wine and spirits. Worse off are only major national beer brands like Budweiser, which saw volumes drop by more than 8% in the four weeks to June 17th.
In order to escape the downward spiral, brewing conglomerates are heavily engaged in buying leading craft breweries. AB InBev alone bought nine American craft brewers in the past three years. But with the advent of bigger breweries being disguised as craft breweries the whole sector has lost its credibility and consumers seem to turn to new trends.