As US Beer Shipments Decline, Off-Premise Sales Remain Flat

Shipments of domestically brewed beer are down about 2.9 percent, according to the Beer Institute, but year-to-date volume sales at off-premise retailers are still basically flat.

According to the latest data from market research firm IRI, volume sales at multi-outlet and convenience stores were down 0.3 percent year-to-date through the period ending November 4.

Dwindling sales of domestic premium beers drove much of the declines, as volume sales of those products were down 5 percent during the period.

Picking up some of that lost volume were imported beers. Volume sales of imports were up 5.3 percent through November 4. Sales of craft beer, meanwhile, were up 1.1 percent, and volume sales of domestic super premium and flavored malt beverages were also both up over 11 percent during the same time frame.

According to IRI, volume sales for Anheuser-Busch, MillerCoors and Heineken are down 2.2 percent, 3.1. percent and 5.7 percent, respectively.

Meanwhile, sales of Constellation Brands offerings, which include Mexican import labels such as Corona, Modelo and Pacifico, were up 12 percent.

Boston Beer Company, driven by growing sales of its hard cider, alcoholic seltzer and spiked tea brands, was up 18.7 percent through November 4, according to the firm.

Despite modest growth for the craft category as a whole, volume sales for some of the country’s largest craft breweries – including New Belgium, Gambrinus, Craft Brew Alliance and Deschutes – were all in decline during the period.

New Belgium’s volume sales were down 9 percent through November 9, even though the company’s most recent four-week trends were slightly improved (down just 3.4 percent).

And Heineken-owned Lagunitas Brewing, which was up 1.8 percent during the period, saw volume sales decline 2.3 percent over the four-week period ending November 4. Volume sales of that company’s flagship offering, Lagunitas IPA, were down 3.2 percent year-to-date and 8.6 percent during those four- weeks.

Nevertheless, other top-ranked craft beer companies are bucking category-wide trends. Founders Brewing, Stone Brewing, Canarchy Craft Brewery Collective, Firestone Walker, Dogfish Head and New Glarus Brewing were all up double-digits.

Founders Brewing is enjoying some of the most success among its craft brewery counterparts, with year-to-date volume sales growing more than 40 percent through November 4. Volume sales of its All Day IPA were also up nearly 34 percent during the period.

Among craft beer styles, IPAs are still the largest product type in the category, with dollar sales up 12.8 percent.

Volume sales of craft seasonals and Belgian-style witbiers are in decline, however, down 8.7 percent and 4.9 percent, respectively.

Sales of craft golden ales and “other pale lagers” are also still on the rise – both categories were up 13.5 percent and 52.9 percent, albeit on smaller volume bases.

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