Brewscape: The Latest Craft Beer Brand News

Brewers Association Reports 5 Percent Growth Midway Through 2018

Growth for small and independent brewers in the U.S. is “stable” as production at craft beer companies grew 5 percent through the first six months of 2018, according to data from industry trade group the Brewers Association (BA).

The nonprofit group shared its annual mid-year growth figures in July, noting that there were 6,655 active breweries as of June 30, up from 5,562 a year ago.

According to BA chief economist Bart Watson, “the market continues to show demand for small and independent craft brewers.”

“There are certainly industry headwinds, but this stabilized growth rate is reflective of the market realities that exist for brewers today,” Watson said, echoing statements made in 2017, when he commented that “the growth pace for small and independent brewers has stabilized at a rate that still reflects progress but in a more mature market.”

At this time last year, craft growth was also up 5 percent, according to the BA.

But not all growth is created equal.

In fact, Watson parsed the data further in a blog post on the organization’s website, noting that only 60 percent of the “regional” craft breweries (those making more than 15,000 barrels annually) who responded to the organization’s mid-year survey were growing.

Watson, who also looked at retail scan data from market research firm IRI Worldwide, wrote that companies that sold between 100,000 and 1 million cases were actually down about 1.5 percent midway through the year.

And it gets worse for those BA-defined craft beer companies selling more than 1 million cases at off-premise retail accounts. According to IRI, mid-year growth for those companies is down about 2.5 percent, collectively.

Conversely, those outfits selling 10,000 cases of beer or less at off-premise retail channels tracked by IRI – often referred to as “the long tail” – were up nearly 31 percent through July 1, 2018. And BA-defined companies selling between 10,000 and 100,000 cases were up about 5.5 percent during the period.

But even growth among those two groups has slowed, from 42.8 percent and 15.1 percent, respectively.

A-B Highlights Diversity in Beer Photos

In an effort to showcase a more diverse array of drinkers featured in stock imagery, Anheuser-Busch recently released hundreds of royalty-free photos that depict women and minorities enjoying beer produced by four of the company’s U.S. craft breweries.

A-B, as part of an “Elevate” initiative aimed at “lifting up the beer category,” partnered with Pexels and Unsplash – websites that offer copyright-free photos – to “capture photos that truly reflect our beer drinking audience,” a spokesperson told Brewbound.

According to the company, which cited internal data, as well as statistics from market research firm Mintel, 39 percent of beer drinkers, identify as “female,” while 32 percent identify as African-American, Hispanic, Asian, or non-white.

But the majority of free stock photos available to journalists, marketers and other creators that seek out beer-related imagery tend to feature a more stereotypical craft beer drinker: a bearded white male in a flannel shirt.

“Diversity and inclusion is really important to us, so you’ll start to see more in that area soon as part of our Elevate program,” Megan Lagesse, the senior director of craft communications at A-B, told Fox News.

Diversity-related searches on the Pexels platform increased 180 percent between 2016 and 2017, the spokesperson added.

In addition to promoting greater diversity in its photo galleries – which prominently feature the company’s 10 Barrel, Four Peaks, Karbach and Veza Sur craft brands – A-B is also making an effort to highlight proper glassware as well as beer and food pairings.

The effort, a spokesperson explained to BevNET, shows a “realistic view” of craft culture.

“It’s women and people of color, clean surfaces, proper glassware, proper pours and much more,” they wrote.