IRI Worldwide: U.S. Beer Sales Top $12 Billion Through May 20

U.S. beer dollar sales increased 4.1 percent as volume sales grew 2.1 percent through the four weeks ending May 20, according to retail data provider IRI Worldwide.

IRI, a Chicago-based market research firm that tracks category-wide sales trends at off-premise retailers, reported that increased dollar sales in several segments — including cider (18.7 percent), imports (9.5 percent), domestic super premiums (15.8 percent), flavored malt beverages (8.5 percent) and non-alcoholic offerings (2.2 percent) — in the last four weeks beat year-to-date trends. The trends for the beer category’s largest segment, domestic premiums, also improved, down 0.5 percent compared to down 3.3 percent for the year.

Total U.S. dollar sales are up 1.7 percent to about $12.3 billion through the first 20 weeks of the year in its multi-outlet and convenience (MULC) universe of stores (grocery, drug, club, dollar, mass-merchandiser and military). Despite the increase in dollar sales, volume sales have decreased on the year.

So far this year, five segments — imports (5.3 percent), craft (2.9 percent), domestic super premium (9.9 percent), flavored malt beverages (6 percent) and cider (8.6 percent) — have posted positive volume sales trends.

Boston Beer Company continued to rebound in 2018, as dollar sales increased 16.5 percent for the maker of the Samuel Adams, Angry Orchard and Twisted Tea brands, among others. New innovations have helped: Samuel Adams Sam ’76 offering cracked IRI’s list of the top 30 craft brands with dollar sales of more than $7.1 million, and Angry Orchard Rosé hard cider made the list of top 100 brands with dollar sales of more than $12.6 million. Scan data also showed dollar sales for Samuel Adams’ seasonal up 33 percent for the year.

However, the news hasn’t been all good for Boston Beer as sales are still lagging for the company’s flagship Samuel Adams Boston Lager (-13.3 percent) and Rebel IPA (-29.7 percent) products, as well as its variety pack (-24.8 percent).

Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. has also posted positive sales numbers for 2018 thus far. Portfolio-wide dollar sales for the Chico, California-headquartered beer company are up 2.3 percent. Despite being back in the black, the downward dollar sales trends remain for Sierra Nevada’s flagship Pale Ale (-4.9 percent) and Torpedo Extra IPA (-8.2 percent) brands. However, dollar sales of Sierra Nevada’s latest seasonal release are up 35.7 percent.

Dollar sales for several craft beer companies have grown by double digits in 2018, including Founders (48.7 percent), Bell’s Brewery (10.1 percent), Firestone Walker (14.2 percent) and Dogfish Head (17.7 percent). Artisanal Brewing Ventures — which includes Southern Tier and Victory Brewing — is also up 18.2 percent.

Year-to-date sales of several top craft offerings are also growing by double digits, including Founders All Day IPA (52.3 percent), Firestone Walker 805 Blonde Ale (20.8 percent), Bell’s Two Hearted Ale (17 percent), New Belgium Rampant Imperial IPA (50 percent), Kona Big Wave Golden Ale (29.4 percent) and Cigar City Jai Alai IPA (66.8 percent).

However, sales have slid in 2018 for a handful of top craft brewers. Dollar sales are down for North American Breweries (-5.9 percent), New Belgium Brewing (-6.1 percent), Gambrinus (-5.3 percent), Craft Brew Alliance (-4.4 percent) and Deschutes (-10.5 percent).

For New Belgium, its two top brands — Fat Tire Amber Ale and Ranger IPA — have both struggled as sales have declined 17.2 percent and 2.1 percent through May 20, respectively.

Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world’s largest beer company, saw year-to-date sales drops for its top two brands, Bud Light (-4.9 percent) and Budweiser (-3.2 percent), driving the company’s overall dollar sales down 1.1 percent.

However, dollar sales of A-B’s low-carb Michelob Ultra offering have continued to climb in 2018, up 18.9 percent. And two of the company’s top craft offerings, Elysian Space Dust IPA and Goose Island IPA, increased dollar sales by 99.7 percent and 4.2 percent, respectively.

Total dollar sales for MillerCoors, the second-largest U.S. beer company, are down 2 percent in 2018. The company’s flagship light lagers posted mixed results: Coors Light’s dollar sales dropped 4.1 percent, while Miller Lite dollar sales dipped 0.9 percent. Dollar sales are also down 2.9 percent for MillerCoors’ Blue Moon Belgian White, which is still ranked as IRI’s top selling “craft” brand.

Elsewhere, Constellation Brands remained the only beer manufacturer among IRI’s top four vendors to grow by double digits as dollar sales increased 14.6 percent for the year. Dollar sales increased for Constellation’s top two brands, Corona Extra (3 percent) and Modelo Especial (19.8 percent), as well as the Pacifico offering (10.7 percent).

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