Sunday, April 19, 2015

The Craft Brewers Conference: State of the 'Craft' Beer Industry 2015.

The 2015 Craft Brewers Conference is now history. And, if only for the number of attendees, a three-fold leap over only a few years ago, it made history.

Boulder, CO • April 17, 2015—The Brewers Association (BA)—the not-for-profit trade group representing America’s small and independent craft brewers—has concluded the 32th edition of the Craft Brewers Conference & BrewExpo America® (CBC) in Portland, Oregon.

As the largest industry gathering, CBC brought together more than 11,500 brewing industry professionals and some 600 exhibitors in one of the biggest beer cities for discussion and dialogue surrounding America’s craft beer culture. Themes included unity, quality and safety.

Craft Brewers Reach Record Volume Share of Marketplace

CBC also saw the BA release a full, extensive analysis of 2014 data on U.S. craft brewing growth. For the first time ever, craft brewers reached double-digit (11 percent) volume share of the marketplace. The state of the industry presentation is available in the CBC Media Kit.

The 2016 CBC will be held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, from May 3-6, in conjunction with the 2016 World Beer Cup®.
— Full BA press release: here.

Every year at the conference, the (U.S.) Brewers Association presents its annual State of the 'Craft' Industry report.* This year was no exception. And, for the most part, the BA reported a good state of affairs. In May, it will provide more extensive analyses and statistics in the The New Brewer, its trade publication. Much of that, however, will be considered proprietary, and thus accessible only to Association members.

Here are a few of the bullet points, made public.

Total Craft Breweries 2014

There were 3,418 breweries in the U.S. at the close of 2014. Extrapolating from figures on other slides, there was a net total of 1.5 breweries opening every day during 2014, with an additional 2,051 breweries in planning by the end of the year. Considering that, that total of 'craft' breweries, a this point in 2015, may be well under-represented.

What's the difference between a brewpub, a microbrewery, and a regional brewery? There's a slide for that.

Definition of Craft Brewery 2015 (Brewers Association)

'Craft' beer volumes grew 18% in 2014 (vs. 0.5% for all U.S. beer), reaching an 11% share of all beer in the U.S.. Here's a slide showing the inherent potential for 'craft' beer growth in 2015, just with the breweries that existed in 2014.

U.S. Craft Brewery Production vs. Capacity 2014

There are a lot of people employed to make, sell, and deliver all that beer. The 'craft' beer industry has become a non-trivial part of national economic vitality.

US Small Brewing Industry Jobs 2014

Quo vadis, 'craft'?

But ... all that new 'craft' beer will have to be sold somewhere to someone. Will demand continue to push supply? And where? In off-premises shops, whose shelves are already bursting with choices, where, on average, prices increased $1.01 per case, a 3% jump? Will consumers continue to open their wallets? Will demand continue in pubs and restaurants, where there are already signs of diminishing growth?

In 2015, will we see a more agitated tug-of-war between big 'craft' —which, although it grew 17% in 2014, saw a drop in its growth rate from 2013— and small 'craft' —brewpubs, which showed 20% growth, and microbreweries, which grew by 33%?

Will non-'craft' mega-breweries continue to purchase 'craft' breweries? Will more 'craft' breweries be themselves purchased other 'craft' breweries? (Here and here.) Interesting times. Stay tuned.

Finally, just a chuckle. Is the U.S. in danger of losing its brewers, as this slide headlines, allowing them to be exported to overseas competitors?

U.S. Craft Beer Exports 2014

  • * Slides from the State of the Industry 2015 can be seen at the Brewers Association's website, via a pdf.
  • I've uploaded several of the slides to Flickr: here.
  • By sales, the top 50 breweries and the top 50 'craft' breweries in the U.S.: here.
  • 'Craft' beer by the (2014) numbers (BA): here.
  • How beer as a whole fared in the U.S. in 2014 (National Beer Wholesalers Association): here.

  • For more from YFGF:

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