Two Studies Show Overall Beer Volume Declined 1.3 Percent In 2011

A pair of beverage reports touting the latest beer industry insights hit the newswire this afternoon and while does not promote either guide, there are some interesting takeaways.

Technomic’s BeerTAB report shows a 1.3 percent decline in overall beer volume in 2011. Total beer volume according to the report 2.8 billion cases for the year. The study shows 11.2 percent volume growth for the craft beer segment which represents 5.5 percent of total beer volume.

The BeerTAB report also notes that Yuengling has officially surpassed Boston Beer Company as the largest “craft brewer.” It is important to note that the Brewers Association – a trade organization for craft brewers – does not currently recognize Yuengling as a ‘craft brewery.’

The second report, the 2012 Beer Handbook released by Beverage Information Group reports the same 1.3 percent overall beer volume decline — a loss of 35.6 million cases according to press materials.

Both press releases, which include information on obtaining the reports, are below.

BeerTAB Report Identifies Growth Segments, Opportunities in Beer

CHICAGO – Beer remained the largest segment of the U.S. adult beverage industry, accounting for more than four-fifths of total alcohol volume, but was challenged by both economic and consumer trends that resulted in a 1.3 percent decline in 2011. Total beer volume was 2.8 billion 2.25-gallon cases for the year, according to Technomic’s recently-released 2012 BeerTAB (Trends in Adult Beverage) report.

“The beer consumer is really at the heart of the trends shaping the beer market,” said Donna Hood Crecca, senior director, Adult Beverage Resource Group at Technomic. “The core consumers for the major domestic brands were among those most impacted by the recession, so their spending habits changed. At the same time, taste preferences evolved, especially among younger consumers, and we saw beer drinkers increasingly seeking different styles and more complex or varied flavor profiles. Both trends affected the powerhouse categories and brands, which resulted in the overall decline.”

Domestic light beer, for example, accounted for more than half of total beer volume, so its 2.6 percent volume decline contributed to the industry’s contraction. Regular domestic beer generated one-fifth of total volume; it declined 3.2 percent. These categories are populated by large-volume but mature brands. The ice beer and malt liquor categories also contracted.

Gains were made in several evolving categories:

  • Imported beer expanded in 2011 to reach 385 million cases, outperforming domestic beer. Mexican beers dominated and grew, finding favor with both mainstream and Hispanic consumers.
  • Craft beer grew 11.2 percent in volume to account for 5.5 percent of total beer volume; the category benefitted from consumer interest in artisan and local products featuring unique styles and flavor profiles. Several craft brewers expanded production or distribution, while newcomers continued to enter the market. The number of craft brewers and microbreweries increased by nearly 200 facilities.
  • Cider emerged as a bright spot. The smallest category within the beer industry tapped into many of the same consumer trends driving craft beer and posted the largest gain, 31.3 percent.
  • Super-premium domestic beer realized an 11.8 percent increase, sparked by product innovation and portfolio expansion by select labels.
  • Flavored malt beverage (FMB) experienced a 3.3 percent increase resulting from seasonal flavors and new drink introductions.

“These pockets of growth indicate the consumer palate is changing, which represents new opportunities for the beer industry,” commented Crecca.

The two largest beer marketers — AB InBev and MillerCoors LLC — together generated nearly three quarters of total beer volume. Each worked to tap into the emerging segments through product innovation, brand extensions and new brand introductions aimed at portfolio diversification, often supported by strategic multi-faceted marketing campaigns.

Imported beer was led by Crown Imports LLC, which increased its share to 44.2 percent of the category on the strength of its Mexican portfolio; the company also grew its share of total beer. Among craft brewers, D.G. Yuengling & Son jumped ahead of the Boston Beer Company to rank as the largest-volume craft brewer; its flagship label also edged out Samuel Adams Boston Lager to be the largest-volume craft brand.

Leading Suppliers’ Share of Beer Volume—2011

  • AB InBev 47.9%
  • MillerCoors LLC 29.3%
  • Crown Imports 5.8%
  • Heineken USA 4.0%
  • Pabst Brewing Co. 2.5%
Source: Technomic's 2012 BeerTAB Report

Looking to 2012 performance, Technomic anticipates similar trends among the categories. “However, the strategic acquisitions, production innovation, new brand and line extensions occurring this year will enable some beer marketers to capitalize on emerging opportunities, thus shifting the beer industry landscape,” noted Crecca.

The 2012 BeerTAB report includes beer industry, category and brand metrics, as well as economic and import/export trends, consumer insights and projections for 2012 performance. BeerTAB is part of the Trends in Adult Beverage (TAB) series.

To purchase or learn more about WineTAB, SpiritsTAB and BeerTAB, as well as other industry reports and services for adult beverage suppliers please visit Technomic or contact one of the individuals listed below.

U.S. Beer Consumption Continues Decline; Consumers Gravitate Toward Wine and Spirits Innovations

NORWALK, CT – It was another year of declines for the beer industry. Heightened competition from other beverage alcohol segments, high unemployment rates among core consumers and a struggling economy contributed to the loss. According to the recently released Beverage Information Group’s 2012 Beer Handbook, the overall beer industry lost 35.6 million 2.25 gallon cases — a 1.3% decline — to end the year at 2.787 billion cases.

Consumers are gravitating to the wine and spirits industries with their new product offerings such as flavored vodkas, category-crossing whiskey liqueurs, sweet reds and high-end blends. Meanwhile, domestic beer saw declines due to its lack of innovation and ability to connect with consumers. With the largest segment, Light beer, losing 39.2 million 2.25-gallon cases, the other beer segments could not make up for the loss. The Craft and Imported beer segments’ continued success helped to offset some of the overall industries’ declines, but could not fix the problem.

According to the Beer Handbook, Imported beer also saw an increase of 1.3% in 2011, and is projected to climb. Consumers are increasingly drawn to imports due to the wide variety of high-end products available, as consumers are trading back up to more premium brands.

The growth in the Craft and Imported beer categories seen over the years is expected to continue, with Imports projected to grow at a slightly slower rate. It remains to be seen if they can offset the declines in the domestic categories. Unemployment rates, economic uncertainty, rising commodity and fuel costs all impact beer pricing structure and therefore, volume.

“We are looking to the Craft segment to continue to spur growth in the beer industry,” says Adam Rogers, senior analyst for the Beverage Information Group, Norwalk, Conn. “Consumer interest is at its peak and there is unlimited potential for growth as more craft brewers enter the marketplace.”

The cost of the 2012 Beer Handbook is $775; handbook with companion CD is $975. Shipping and handling is $15 for U.S. orders; $25 for all other orders. The handbook and CD can be purchased at or by calling Cynthia Porter at (630) 762-8709.

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