IRI: Craft Sales Up 22 Percent Over Last Four Weeks


Staring at IRI’s latest spreadsheet isn’t exactly the most exhilarating way to spend a Thursday afternoon, but it can reveal some pretty interesting nuggets.

Take this one, about Not Your Father’s Root Beer (NYFRB): The brand that everyone seems to be talking about, nonstop, is now the 11th best-selling “craft” product in the research firm’s multi-outlet and convenience store (MULC) universe (which includes grocery, drug, Wal-Mart, club, dollar, mass-merchandiser and military stores).

And, over the last four weeks, sales of NYFRB surpassed $8 million mark (about half of the brand’s total dollar sales so far in 2015).

And while there’s certainly no denying NYFRB’s success in recent weeks, there’s a whole swath of craft brands that are also continuing to grow at impressive double-digit (and sometimes triple-digit) rates.

One of the country’s fastest-growing craft breweries, Lagunitas, has three top-30 best-selling craft SKUs — IPA, Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ and its seasonal offering. Each brand is up 53 percent, 61 percent and 42 percent, respectively.

Not to be outdone, sales of Sierra Nevada’s Torpedo Extra IPA and Samuel Adams’ Rebel IPA are up 15.4 percent and 33 percent year-to-date, respectively. Four-week trends for Torpedo are steady, up 13.4 percent, but sales of Samuel Adams Rebel IPA are up just 7.4 percent since June 12.

Meanwhile, Firestone Walker Brewing’s 805 Blonde Ale is quickly creeping its way up the top-30 list as well. Sales are up 147 percent year-to-date and the latest four-week figures don’t seem to indicate a slowdown anytime soon.

Taking a step back and looking at channel trends, craft supermarket sales are up a healthy 17.8 percent over the last 52 weeks, but there’s a slight decline brewers should pay attention to. Sales of craft beer in supermarkets were actually up 20.5 percent at this time last year.

The takeaway? As craft continues to capture additional market share, dollar sales growth slows, which is to be expected — it’s more difficult to continue growing at a 20 percent clip on an increasingly larger base. Nevertheless, it would seem as though the days of consistent 20 percent growth could be, slowly, returning to more sustainable single-digit figures.

Year-to-date, however, craft sales are still up more than 21 percent in MULC. Buoyed by a strong Fourth of July numbers – craft sales were up 22 percent over the four-week period ending July 12 – the category is on pace to grow by double-digits, yet again, in 2015.

Driving that growth, as everyone might expect, are sales of IPA. Year-to-date sales are approaching $400 million, up 45.2 percent in IRI’s MULC universe. IPA now makes up more 27 percent of category-wide sales.

Other trends to watch:

  • Sales of craft pilsner are up 122 percent year-to-date.
  • Sales of craft farmhouse/saison ales are up 143.9 percent year-to-date.
  • Sales of Mexican Imports are up 13.8 percent