Domestic Beer Shipments Jumped in July, but Off-Premise Sales are Still Flat

Year-to-Date volume sales of beer are basically flat, according to market research firm IRI Worldwide, which tracks scan data at major off-premise retailers throughout the U.S.

In its latest monthly report, the firm also said off-premise retail volume sales of craft beer had grown 1.4 percent year-to-date through the period ending August 12.

The somewhat sluggish sales comes even as U.S. beer shipments rose 6.1 percent in July, according to industry trade group the Beer Institute, citing data from the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau.

So who are the winners and losers eight months into the year?

According to IRI, New Belgium Brewing has suffered the steepest declines amongst top 25 vendors, as off-premise sales have dipped more than 10 percent in 2018.

Other stalwart regional beer companies – including North American Brewing, Gambrinus, Craft Brew Alliance and Deschutes – have faced similar volume challenges. Those groups are down 6.7 percent, 4.6 percent, 7.3 percent and 8.8 percent, respectively.

Other prominent craft beer makers are still finding success, however. Boston Beer Company – which makes the Samuel Adams, Angry Orchard, Truly Spiked and Twisted Tea products, among others – is up more than 18 percent on the year, according to IRI.

Boston Beer founder and chairman Jim Koch can thank his non-beer offerings for the improved trends, however, as sales of flagship Boston Lager are down more than 15 percent year-to-date.

Other craft companies outperforming the category in the off-premise retail segment include Founders Brewing, which is up 45.7 percent, and Firestone Walker Brewing Company, which is up 15.8 percent.

Amongst craft beer styles, IPAs are still the largest product type in the category, up with dollar sales up 13.3 percent and nearing $1 billion.

Volume of craft golden ales and “other pale lagers” – which tend to have lower alcohol and are said to be more sessionable – are up 12.9 percent and 54.8 percent, respectively (albeit it on smaller bases).

Meanwhile, volume sales of flavored malt beverages produced by craft companies are up 242 percent, according to the firm.

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