Last Call: US Beer Shipments Declined By 1 Million Barrels in May

US Brewers Ship 1 Million Fewer Barrels in May

U.S. brewers’ shipments in May declined 6.6%, to 14.2 million barrels, a loss of 1 million barrels compared to May 2019, according to the Beer Institute (BI), which shared unofficial estimates of domestic tax paid shipments compiled by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB).

However, the BI offered a caveat with this month’s report, noting that the trade group anticipates “significant revisions” to March, April and May 2020 shipment numbers, as the TTB has postponed reporting requirements for filing and payment due dates for up to 90 days.

Nevertheless, the BI now estimates that shipments have declined every month thus far in 2020, year-to-date shipments down 2.8%, or nearly 1.9 million barrels. Through the first five months of 2020, U.S. beer companies have shipped an estimated 65,764,000 barrels.

May’s 1 million-barrel decline is now the steepest of 2020, topping April’s 700,000-barrel decline. The growing dip in shipments in April and May coincides with the shutdown of bars, restaurants and taprooms due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Off-premise beer sales have spiked during the shutdown, with dollar sales up nearly 18%, to around $18.9 billion year-to-date through June 14 in multi-outlet and convenience stores tracked by market research firm IRI.

In other BI/TTB news related to the pandemic, the waiver of a requirement that brewers and beer importers submit a notice to the federal agency in order to destroy out-of-code beer in the marketplace has been extended through September 1. The waiver was initially set to expire on July 1.

Georgia Beer Home Delivery Beer Goes to Governor

The Georgia House of Representatives on Thursday gave final approval to a bill that would allow grocery and liquor stores in the state to deliver beer, wine and spirits, sending the measure to Gov. Brian Kemp, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

House Bill 879 would require ID checks to ensure buyers are of legal drinking age. However, the legislation allows local municipalities to opt out of permitting bev-alc deliveries, the AJC added.

Trade Groups Oppose Tariffs on Aluminum Imported from Canada

National trade group the Beer Institute, along with the Aluminum Association, Can Manufacturing Institute and Beverage Association issued a letter Thursday to U.S. Trade Representative Robert E. Lighthizer in opposition to plans to impose tariffs or a quota on imported aluminum from Canada.

“The entire supply chain agrees: imposition of a tariff or a quota on importation of aluminum from Canada would be very bad for the U.S. aluminum industry, U.S. manufacturing businesses, and the economy generally,” the leaders of the four trade groups wrote.

Those four trade groups have stressed the importance of “a stable and predictable supply chain,” and the importance of aluminum from Canada. The U.S. imports more primary aluminum from Canada than any other country, making it critical to the beverage manufacturing industry.

“Constraints on imports of aluminum from our country’s closest ally, whether in the form of a quota or a tariff, will significantly increase the cost of aluminum in this country,” the letter said. “This is particularly troublesome given that most of the U.S. aluminum industry opposes such [a] move and U.S. manufacturing is in the difficult position of trying [to] recover from the negative effects of the very fluid situation that is the COVID-19 pandemic.”

In addition to the trade groups, 16 executives representing the aluminum industry in the U.S. issued a similar letter to Lighthizer asking the trade representative to maintain quota-free Section 232 tariff exemptions for aluminum in North America.

Fresh Fest Founders Engaged in Lawsuit

The co-founders of Fresh Fest, the nation’s first craft beer festival to showcase Black brewers, are engaged in a legal battle over the festival’s assets and finances, Good Beer Hunting reported.

Fresh Fest co-founders Day Bracey and Mike Potter decided to part ways in September 2019 following the second annual festival and drew up an agreement in January 2020 to buy out Potter of his connection to the event. However, Bracey told Good Beer Hunting that Potter hasn’t relinquished control of social media accounts and financial documents.

As Brewbound reported last week, the 2020 in-person edition of Fresh Fest has been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, the festival will go digital on August 8, with tickets costing $10.

Tickets will go on sale on July 1, and attendees can order 4-packs of the festival’s signature collaborations beers from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-based craft brewers, Black-owned breweries and entrepreneurs, artists and politicians from the Black community through Tavour.

Pike Brewing Co-Founder Rose Ann Finkel Dead at 73

Rose Ann Finkel, the co-founder of Seattle’s Pike Brewing, died at age 73 on June 16 after battling Myelodysplastic syndrome blood cancer, the Seattle Post Intelligencer reported.

Finkel and husband Charles founded Pike Brewing in 1989 and craft beer importer Merchant du Vin in the late 1970s.

Eater Seattle has a wonderful tribute to Finkel, including comments from several Seattle area craft brewers on Finkel’s legacy.

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