Beer shipments in the U.S. slipped an estimated 1.4%, or 2.9 million barrels, from 2010 to 2011, according to recent newsletter published by Beer Marketer’s Insights.
Of course it was the Big Boys who took the hit, with Anheuser-Busch InBev shipments slipping 2.9% and MillerCoors seeing shipments fall 3%. Imports didn’t fare any better, as shipments of Guinness fell 2.4% and Heineken dropped 3.9%.
Those are some pretty significant drops, and a sign that beer in general may be falling out of favor in the United States.
According to BMI, the American beer industry must take action, and apparently they’re quite serious about it, because they broke out their marketing-speak handbooks:
“Big brewers need to regain drinking occasions taken by spirits over the last decade, especially among Millennials,” the group wrote in a recent blog post. “Consumers continue to face [a] plethora of new beverage choices.”
Oh those Millennials and their plethora of beverage choices for their drinking occasions! What’s a brewer to do?
Well, they could start by brewing better beer, like Sam Adams, whose shipments were up 8%, and Yeungling, who gained a whopping 16.9% in shipments over the past year. This certainly doesn’t make up for the loss in overall sales volume beer has been experiencing, but it does show a trend towards things “better” than macro beers.
I can’t help but wonder if the rise of craft beer is hurting overall sales volume of The World’s Greatest Beverage. I’m totally speculating here (rare, I know), but perhaps as “Millennials” ( A.K.A people born in the 80’s) have been introduced to craft beer, it’s made them realize that macro beers aren’t worth drinking. Because craft beers aren’t as widely available as macro lagers, people are skipping beer altogether and choosing distilled spirits or wine. In this way, craft beer is actually hurting beer sales, as it’s opening people’s eyes to the fact that the majority of beer available in American isn’t very good.
Certainly it sucks to see beer losing traction in the U.S. marketplace, but it’s also good to see Americans looking for something more interesting than light industrial lagers. We’ll have to see what happens to these numbers as craft beer continues to rise in popularity and, perhaps more importantly, availability.