The Brewers Association, the United States trade association representing the majority of U.S. brewing companies, today released 2010 data on the U.S. craft brewing industry. Small and independent craft brewers saw volume increase 11 per cent and retail sales dollars increase 12 per cent over 2009, representing a growth of over 1 million barrels (117 litres per U.S. barrel), equal to more than 14 million new craft cartons.
The Association also reported an eight per cent growth in the number of U.S. breweries. In 2010, there were 1,759 operating breweries. Craft brewers produced 9,951,956 barrels (1 164 378 852 litres), up from an adjusted 8,934,446 barrels (1 045 330 182 litres) in 2009.
In 2010, US craft brewers represented 4.9 per cent of beer volume and 7.6 per cent of retail dollars of the total U.S. beer category. The Brewers Association estimates the actual dollar sales figure from craft brewers in 2010 was $7.6 billion, up from $7 billion in 2009.
Overall, the U.S. beer industry represented an estimated retail dollar value of $101 billion. U.S. beer sales were down approximately one per cent, or 2 million barrels, in 2010 compared to being down 2.2 per cent in 2009. Total beer industry barrels dropped to 203.6 million, down from 205.7 million barrels in 2009. Imports were up five per cent in 2010, compared to being down 9.8 per cent in 2009.
“Beer lovers increased their appreciation for American craft brewers and their beers in 2010,” said Paul Gatza, director, Brewers Association.
“Craft brewers’ stories resonate with Americans who are choosing small, independent companies making delicious beers in more than 100 different styles.”
Gatza added, “We also found that three per cent of craft brewer barrels, by volume, are distributed in cans, confirming a growing trend.”
No comparable figures exist for the Australian market as there is no national association for Australian small brewers to collect the figures or even formulate a definition of ‘craft beer’ for the local market. The volume of ‘craft beer’ fitting the stringent US definition of ‘small, independent and traditional’ is estimated to be much less than one per cent of the Australian beer market. Even with the boutique arms of the multinational breweries factored in, the market for craft beers is estimated to be significantly less than five per cent.
The lack of a national association representing the interests of Australia’s small breweries and working to develop a unified voice to educate consumers and actively promote craft beer is a a significant issue that needs to be overcome if the Australian small brewery sector is to grow sustainably. The US Brewers Association is a not-for-profit trade and education association dedicated to small and independent American brewers, their craft beers and the community of brewing enthusiasts. It is a major factor in the growing awareness of craft beer in the United States running a number of major festivals and conferences, including the Great American Beer Fest, World Beer Cup and the Craft Brewers Conference.
Presently, Australia has no active and unified voice representing the interests of small brewers other than a variety of state-based associations of varying dynamism and intent and an informal affiliation of brewers solely focussed on the difficult and, so far unrewarding, issue of excise. The wider promotion of and education about craft beer as a category has been left largely to passionate individuals such as The Crafty Pint website, developed by beer writer James Smith, and the WA-based microbrewing.com.au run by brewer John Stallwood.