Power Hour Part II: Top-Selling Packages and Key Craft Styles

Craft beer continued its strong showing in U.S. supermarkets through the first half of 2013, according to new data from IRI, a Chicago-based market research group.

Dan Wandel, senior vice president of beverage alcohol client relations for IRI, shared recent statistics on craft beer sales in U.S. supermarkets during yesterday’s “Power Hour,” an online seminar hosted by the Brewers Association. According to Wandel, craft is on pace to achieve its eighth straight year of double-digit dollar sales growth in supermarkets, up 15.3 percent in the channel through July 14.

Wandel’s presentation featured a wide-range of insights on craft’s rise in the supermarket channel, including the top new craft brands, new packages, key package sizes, top performing styles and various regional trends.

Topping the list of new craft beer brands in U.S. supermarkets in 2013 is New Belgium Brewing’s Rampant Imperial IPA, which generated $1,396,959 in sales through July 14. Not far behind was Boston Beer Company’s Samuel Adams Double Agent IPL, with $895,957 in supermarket sales. Checking in at third on the list is Redhook Brewing’s Audible Ale, a co-branded label crafted in collaboration with “The Dan Patrick Show.” Audible Ale has tallied $739,551 for the year-to-date period ending July 14, according to IRI.

Other notable new beer brands making the top 10 list are Deschutes Brewing’s River Ale in the fifth position, Anchor Brewing’s California Lager in the seventh position and Karbach Brewing’s Barn Burner Saison in ninth, all three of which fall outside of an IPA category that is up 35.7 percent in dollar sales this year.

The top three performing new brands are also sold in the most popular package size for craft: 6-packs of 12 oz. glass bottles. Dollar sales of the package are up 12.6 percent to $302 million in U.S. supermarkets. And while 12 oz. glass bottles appear to be the most commonly used package, an increasing number of craft breweries are turning to aluminum. In fact, dollar sales for both 12-pack and 6-packs of 12 oz. cans are up over 94 percent in supermarkets and combined. Combined, the two packages have generated over $22 million in sales.

The growth of cans was buoyed by Boston Beer’s introduction of the package for its flagship Boston Lager and seasonal offerings. Through July 14, the company generated $589,182 in sales of 12-packs of Boston Lager and $521,348 in sales of its 12-pack seasonal offerings within IRI-tracked supermarkets. Sales 22 oz. bottles also continued to climb through the first half of the year, up 25.8 percent to $39.2 million in supermarket sales.

“Package innovation is allowing [craft beer] to compete with occasions that it might not have been able to compete for in the past,” said Wandel.

Stylistically, IPA’s continue to be the driving force behind craft’s growth in supermarkets, boasting 21.5 percent of the segment share. Seasonal offerings, which account for 15.7 percent of craft’s share in supermarkets was up slightly – 7.3 percent – through July 14. Pale ales, an often overlooked craft style, was up 10.7 percent for the same period and generated over $69 million of sales in the channel.

Geographically, craft’s growth is greatest in the Great Lakes region where dollar sales are up 25.4 percent in supermarkets. Craft dollar sales in the are also up 20.8 percent in Southeast supermarkets, and 17 percent in Northeast supermarkets.

Editor’s note: In his presentation, Wandel also provided a deep dive into six key U.S. markets. A follow-up story will be published next week.