Massachusetts Beverage Business



Perhaps it’s the desire to buy artisan-crafted beer or maybe it’s the growing popularity of locally-made products. Whatever the reason, one thing is clear: Americans simply cannot get enough craft beer. National craft beer sales rose 15 percent in the first half of 2O11, representing what is believed to be a record growth figure for the category. The surge in sales and production comes as the overall beer industry has seen sales decline .9 percent for the first six months of the this year, said Julia Herz, Craft Beer Program Director for the Brewers Association. The 2O11 figures follow year-over-year sales growth of 12 percent in the first half of 2O1O and 9 percent in the first six months of 2OO9. The number of breweries in the United States – 97.2 percent of which are craft breweries – also increased by 1O.2 percent, to 179O total breweries at the end of this June. What’s even more impressive is that another 725 new US breweries are in the planning. The craft beer industry presently provides about 1OO,OOO jobs. While this growth is phenomenal, Herz said industry leaders are not concerned that craft breweries are reaching a point of saturation nationwide. Sales from craft beers totaled $3.88 billion for the first half of 2O11, up from $3.37 billion in the first six months of 2O1O. Craft breweries sold 5.1 million barrels during that time frame, up from 4.6 million barrels in the same period in 2O1O. By comparison, MillerCoors reported that its first-half production fell 3.1 percent in volume from the first half of 2O1O, while its first half sales fell .5 percent from the year before. Although the market share owned by craft breweries – 7 percent in terms of sales and 5 percent in terms of volume – remains small, it is growing. “I think you’ve got a strong, mature industry that’s coming of age,” Herz said. “The ability to produce craft beer has gotten a little bit easier with equipment. The demand is there . . . It’s not every day you see an industry dominated by large international companies shaken up by small domestic companies.” To further prove the point, virtually every mainstream big beer company has come out with craft-styled beers in the last year or so. They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery!

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