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Beer Shipments Are Down in the U.S. as the Industry Is Struggling

Beer Shipments Are Down in the U.S. as the Industry Is Struggling beer filling in a brewery - conveyor belt with glass bottles

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.

I’m a pop culture nerd who thinks too much about fried bacon, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and life, the Universe and everything. I love food and sometimes you can see that on my hips, but I don't care that much about that.
What I do care more about is trying to eat healthier, even though I admit that I like to indulge in my food fantasies. I’m addicted to puns, so forgive me for that when you read my articles. I now know too much about nutrition to be fun to hang out with. So long and thanks for all the fish-based omega-3 fatty acids.

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