Are Craft Beer Sales Trending Down?

If you are in the beer industry, you may have noticed that sales of craft beer have been flat lately. The Beer Institute, a national trade association representing the brewer industry reported that domestic taxes paid for April decreased by 4.1 percent this year. According to a recent article, the group's chief economist, Michael Uhrich, noted in an email to members that heavy rainfalls in April may be the cause. Uhrich was quoted as saying "April was an unusually rainy month, and there is a correlation between higher rainfall and lower beer sales." Uhrich went on to explain that Rainfall was above a 10-year average in 34 states, which is a likely explanation for the drop in sales. Market research firm IRI Worldwide noted that U.S. beer volume sales were down 8 percent through the first 134 days of the year. IRI Worldwide also pointed out that craft style seasonal products sales were down 10.1 percent.

While some may argue the sales decline is due to an oversaturated craft beer market, even major beer brands are experiencing a decrease in sales. According to IRI Worldwide, large breweries such as Yuengling, Sierra Nevada, Boston Beer Company, and Pabst Brewing all experienced decline in company-wide sales ranging from 1.2 percent to as high at 8.5 percent.

Despite the overall trend, certain products have seen a growth in volumes sales. Products like craft IPA’s, golden ales, and super premium products have all seen an increase in sales, with craft IPA’s experiencing a volume sales growth of 15.4 percent. Import and domestic super premium offerings experienced a growth of up to 7.4 percent. Lastly, golden ales experienced a more than 50 percent growth in sales, which makes golden ales still the fastest growing product on the market. For example, Firestone Walker's Blonde Ale experienced a growth of roughly 23 percent for year to date, and Craft Brew Alliance's Kona Big Wave experienced a nearly 40 percent growth for year to date.

But even if you aren't trying to break into one of these markets there is still hope for sales to rebound. As Uhrich mentioned, beer sales and rain volume are correlated. So, with summer upon us and rain hopefully far away, craft beer sales may be trending up again soon


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