On the heels of a year in which Sierra Nevada saw continued success in sales of its canned offerings, the country’s second-largest craft brewery today announced that it will begin shipping 4-packs of its flagship Pale Ale in 16 oz. cans nationwide next week.
In 2013, the brewery’s 12 oz. Pale Ale cans in 12-pack format was the only non-glass product to crack IRI’s list of top 50 craft packages sold in multi-outlet and convenience store (MULC) channels. According to IRI, a Chicago-based market research firm, Sierra Nevada tallied nearly $11.5 million in sales in MULC channels, which includes grocery, drug, Wal-Mart, club, dollar, mass-merchandiser and military stores. Dollar sales for the package grew a 67.7 percent versus 2011.
“Pale cans seem to have a few things going for them,” Ryan Arnold, communications manager at Sierra Nevada, told Brewbound in November. “They strike the sustainability chord, which is a huge pillar of ours.”
Four-packs are a familiar format for the California-based brewery, which already sells its Torpedo Extra IPA in the same package. But the addition of 16 oz. Pale Ale cans could prove to be an important weapon as Sierra Nevada looks to gain a deeper foothold in C-stores. The large format package is a popular one in C-Stores, a channel that brewery founder Ken Grossman said hasn’t traditionally been a principal target.
“It’s a pretty tough nut to crack,” Grossman said. “We haven’t had a lot of focus there and we are putting more focus there now.”
Nevertheless, sales of Sierra’s canned 12-packs almost doubled in C-stores last year to more than $2 million. But the improved sales came may have come at the expense of the brewery’s bottled 12-packs, sales of which dipped 2.1 percent in C-stores during the same period, according to IRI.
Have sales of Pale Ale cans cannibalized those of Sierra’s glass bottles? Arnold doesn’t think so.
“The 12-packs weren’t a catalyst for new cans,” Arnold wrote in an email. “Brewery wide, 12-pack glass of Pale Ale enjoyed a jump. The C-store change is conjecture at this point, though we suspect it may be due to some of them in outdoor communities sending more cans out the door.”
Sierra Nevada’s canned 12-pack finished the year as the 23rd best-selling craft package in IRI’s MULC universe. The brewery began canning in 2011.