It’s interesting to read how strongly US craft beer exports are growing. It certainly mirrors the growth in US craft brewery numbers with the US Brewers Association reporting more than 1200 breweries currently in planning. Growth that has seen some in the US start talking in terms of beer bubbles popping.
It’s not surprising that US brewers are looking to export markets and, with our strong dollar and growing beer interest, it’s not surprising that Australia is a target market for their exports. The US Brewers Association sent their export development team down here last year for Good Beer Week to build their networks and it seems to be paying off with strong gains reported here.
The flood of beers to our markets, coupled with some reports of beer languishing on retailer’s shelves, is certainly something worth discussing. Once I have the current episode of Radio Brews News edited and posted (sorry Prof!) it might make a good panel discussion for a later episode. In the meantime I had a chat with local craft brewer Ben Kraus to get his thoughts about it.
Ben doesn’t appear too concerned by the imports.
“Obviously if our customers are choosing these imports over our beer it does affect us. However I feel the quality of what is on offer in Australia is as good and in many cases better than much of what is imported from the states,” Ben said.
“Some of these beers carry a huge reputation before local craft beer drinkers have even had them, once tasting them they quickly realise their local brewery is often doing a better job.”
“Much of the reason behind the increase in imports is due to the strength of the Aussie dollar and the high cost of production of domestic craft beer due to both scale and our higher wage and energy costs.”
Similarly, Ben doesn’t seem too concerned about the section of the craft market that, like magpies, typically only look for the shiny and new.
“I think [that’s] mostly evident in a smaller percentage of hard core craft beer drinkers, I am guilty of this myself, as I often drink for the experience and enjoy trying something new,” Ben said.
Nor does Ben feel the need to compete against the smorgasbord of imports.
“I don’t think the imports affect our decisions here at all, although I would say that we have been influenced by craft beer in America – but not based on competition with them here,” he said.
“We do what we do [because] we want to create exciting and interesting beer. We were doing that before these imports came along and will continue doing it when they go.”
Anyway, in light of the US Brewer’s Association release below, it might make for an in-depth discussion. [MK]
American Craft Beer Exports Set New Records in 2012
Exports climb 72 per cent from previous year
Boulder, CO • March 12, 2013—The Brewers Association (BA)—the not-for-profit trade group representing small and independent craft brewers—today reported that the American craft beer industry set a new record for exports in 2012. Based on results from a recently-completed industry survey, craft beer export volume increased by an astounding 72 per cent compared to 2011, with a value estimated at $49.1 million.
Canada remained the industry’s largest export market, with shipments increasing 140 per cent by volume (up to 68,180 barrels) in 2012. Significant gains have been made in Ontario and British Columbia, and American craft beers are now gaining distribution in other provinces.
Sweden and the United Kingdom remained the next two largest markets. Though total exports decreased in both countries compared to 2011, the decline was offset by increased shipments to other European markets. In total, Western Europe accounted for 56,204 barrels valued at $14.6 million in 2012, a 5.6 per cent increase over 2011.
Elsewhere, American craft beer exports to the Asia-Pacific region increased substantially. Shipments to Japan jumped 57 per cent by volume and American breweries made strong gains in Australia, China, Hong Kong and emerging markets such as Thailand, Japan, Australia and China are now the industry’s fourth, fifth and sixth largest export markets, respectively.
“The BA is very pleased with the continued growth in exports of American craft beer to markets around the world. Consumers continue to view American craft brewers as leaders in innovation and among the standard bearers for quality. Maintaining that perception is a priority for the craft brewing community,” said Bob Pease, chief operating officer, Brewers Association.
The BA supports exports through its Export Development Program which was initiated in 2004 with funds from the United States Department of Agriculture Market Access Program (USDA MAP). The Export Development Program generates exposure for American craft beer through trade shows, festivals, seminars, media outreach and competitions, among other activities.
“Each year the EDP makes considerable progress in accomplishing the BA’s goals,” added Brett Joyce, Rogue Ales, chair of the BA’s Export Development Program committee.
“Since its inception, we have worked to not only increase distribution, but educate international markets about the quality and diversity of products offered by American craft brewers. The results of our efforts in the international community have been extremely rewarding.”