IRI Worldwide: Craft Beer Sales Up Narrowly Through Mid-Year

Midway through 2018, off-premise volume sales of craft beer across a variety of large-scale retail stores are up just 1.7 percent, according to market research firm IRI Worldwide.

While craft beer dollar sales at grocery, club, drug, dollar, mass merchandiser and convenience stores were just shy of $2 billion through June 17, up 2.9 percent year-to-date, the most recent trends point to a slowdown as brewing companies head into an important summer season.

Volume sales of craft beer at multi-outlet and convenience stores were up just 0.2 percent during the latest four-week scan, while dollar sales increased 1.4 percent.

Sales for some of the country’s largest craft beer suppliers – Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, New Belgium Brewing, Craft Brew Alliance and Deschutes Brewery – are in the red.

Off-premise volume sales of California-headquartered Sierra Nevada Brewing, which is ranked by industry trade group the Brewers Association as the third largest craft beer company in the U.S., were down 2.2 percent during the four-week period ending June 17. The company’s year-to-date trends, however, are about flat.

Year-to-date volume sales of New Belgium, CBA and Deschutes products, meanwhile, were down 10.4 percent, 8 percent, and 10.4 percent, respectively, thru the halfway point of the year.

New Belgium’s flagship offering, Fat Tire amber ale, is struggling – volume sales are down nearly 20 percent on the year. And CBA’s trends would be worse, if it weren’t for the growth of Kona Brewing’s Big Wave golden ale, volume sales of which were up more than 24 percent through June 17.

But it’s not all bad news for the nation’s largest craft beer makers.

Boston Beer Company — which produces the Samuel Adams, Angry Orchard, Twisted Tea and Truly Spiked hard seltzer lines – has grown 16 percent on the year due to the breakout success of Angry Orchard Rosé cider as well as the growth of its Truly spiked seltzer and Twisted Tea products.

Introduced earlier this year, Angry Orchard Rosé cider has generated more than $17 million in off-premise sales year-to-date, according to IRI. It is already larger than Heineken Light, Anheuser-Busch’s Michelob Ultra Pure Gold (another 2018 product launch) and Lone Star, among other brands.

Other large-scale craft breweries that have continued to grow in 2018, despite increased competition from more than 6,500 smaller players, include Founders Brewing (up 51.4 percent), Bell’s Brewery (up 4 percent), Stone Brewing (up 10 percent), Sweetwater Brewing (up 4.2 percent), Firestone Walker (up 14.9 percent), Oskar Blues Brewing (up 20.4 percent) and Dogfish Head (up 13.6 percent).

Among the major suppliers, year-to-date volume sales for Anheuser-Busch InBev and MillerCoors were down 2.1 and 2.6 percent through June 17, respectively, while Constellation Brands grew 12 percent.

Meanwhile, off-premise volumes sales for Heineken USA, which recently appointed Maggie Timoney as its new CEO, were down 4.4 percent.

Off-premise sales of imported beer, the second largest segment behind domestic premium beer, were also up 5.3 percent through June 17, according to IRI. Domestic premium beer sales, meanwhile, were down 4.3 percent during the same period.

Sales of flavored malt beverages and cider were up 6.6 percent and 8.7 percent, respectively.

Category-wide volume sales of beer were down 0.3 percent during the period.

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