Is the American beer industry struggling lately? The answer is yes, according to the latest numbers. Beer shipments were down last year, for the second year in a row.
2017 was the worst year for beer in the States in over six decades, and it was a steep drop. But 2018 managed to top it when it comes to beer shipments. According to data released by the Beer Institute, an industry trade group, the shipments went down by 2.1 percent, which means that nearly 3.6 million fewer barrels of beer were shipped by brewers in 2018. The drop was 2.2 in 2017, which is quite close and also pretty bad.
A year ago, Beer Institute Chief Economist Michael Uhrich had said that the previous year was “the largest percentage decrease in annual domestic beer shipment volume since 1954,” according to Brewbound.
Fewer beer shipments, more breweries
The drop in beer shipments is sad news, especially when correlated with the growth in the number of breweries. Last year, the number of breweries increased for the 13th time in a row, reaching a number in the seven thousands. The Brewers Association also announced that 85 percent of Americans that can legally drink lives within 10 miles of a brewery.
That makes things even sadder, since Americans have more access to beer than ever, and yet, the consumer tastes are swiftly changing. And beer as an ingredient in cooking is getting more and more popular.
So how are breweries faring with the changing trends when it comes to drinking? A lot of them have increased their offering in non-alcoholic drinks or beers. At the same time, people have been drinking more and more non-traditional products, like hard seltzer.
But smaller craft breweries that are focusing on just satisfying local customers are doing pretty good when it comes to sales. National and regional breweries are the ones losing the favor of their customers.
After all, people are going for niche products right now, effectively shunning mass-produced items and supporting their local producers.