IRI: Off-Premise Craft Beer Sales Grew 19 Percent in 2013

Craft Beer sales in key U.S. retail channels grew 19.2 percent in 2013, according to new data from Chicago-based market research firm IRI.

Sales eclipsed $1.8 billion in IRI’s multi-outlet and convenience retail channel universe (MULC), which comprises grocery, drug, Wal-Mart, Club, Dollar, Mass-Merchandiser and Military stores, gaining 0.86 share points of total off-premise U.S. beer volumes, the company reported.

Total dollar sales for the beer category — including domestic, import, progressive adult beverages and cider — grew 3.2 percent in 2013, IRI said.

In craft styles, India Pale Ales grew 44 percent, to $349 million; split out from MULC, IPAs grew 37 percent in Supermarkets and 61.8 percent in C-Stores. Craft seasonals also grew at a healthy clip. Dollar sales grew 14.8 percent while volumes increased 12.6 percent. In fact, more than 1.1 million incremental seasonal cases were added last year.

Craft’s off-premise gains have coincided with declining sales for lower priced domestic sub-premium offerings from large brewers like Anheuser-Busch InBev (ABI) and MillerCoors. Despite being the second largest category in terms of both dollar sales and volumes, domestic sub-premium offerings (like Busch Light and Natural Light) lost more than 15 million cases in 2013. Dollar sales of domestic sub-premium beer also declined 3.7 percent.

And while ABI and MillerCoors’ core offerings like Bud Light, Coors Light, Budweiser and Miller Lite are still the largest domestic beer brands, they’re struggling. Bud Light volumes were down 2 percent in MULC, a drop of nearly 6 million cases.

The Budweiser brand lost more than 3.5 million cases, down 3.3 percent in 2013. Coors Light volumes were actually up 1.6 percent last year (1.8 million cases), but volumes for sister brand Miller Lite were down 4.7 percent, or 4.5 million cases.

Meanwhile, craft brands from the segment’s top suppliers — Boston Beer Company, Gambrinus, Sierra Nevada, New Belgium and Lagunitas — continued to chug along. Dollar sales of Samuel Adams seasonal SKU, a shifting series of products that nevertheless comprise the craft category’s best-selling ‘brand,’ grew 13.6 percent in MULC to over $134.8 million. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale trailed closely behind — dollar sales grew 9.8 percent to $112.7 million. Boston Lager, Shiner Bock and New Belgium Fat Tire rounded out the top five; dollar sales for each brand are up 11 percent, 12.5 percent and 4 percent, respectively.

Not to be outdone, rapidly-growing Lagunitas Brewing notched two of craft beer’s fastest growing brands: IPA and Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’. Lagunitas IPA dollar sales grew 71.3 percent in MULC while sales of Sumpin’ Sumpin’ grew 173 percent. Lagunitas is now the 16th largest beer supplier in the U.S. and posted company-wide dollar sales gains of 85.9 percent in MULC.

Of the top 15 U.S. beer suppliers, six are now ones that specialize in craft offerings, according to the report.

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