U.S. Beer Consumption Increases; Rising Demand for Higher-Priced Offerings

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According to a new report by the Beverage Information Group, “the beer industry saw gains in both dollar and volume in 2012 after a three-year downturn.” Their conclusion was that “well-marketed new products and slight improvements in the unemployment rate contributed to the beer industry’s overall growth.” Here’s the group’s press release with additional findings:

Super-premium, Craft, Imported and Flavored Malt Beverages out-performed the industry overall, as there is increasing demand for higher-priced beer. Super-premium and Premium increased 1.6%, and Craft increased 13.7% to reach 185.2 million 2.25-gallon cases. This is the largest increase for Craft beer in more than a decade.

Imported beer also increased for a third year, even though major brands such as Bass, Beck’s and Red Stripe were removed from the category because they are now domestically brewed. This 1% increase is largely due to consumer demand for a wider selection of products.

Innovations in the Light Beer category, such as the launch of Bud Light Platinum, were not enough to turn things around for the category. Light beer declined for the fourth year in a row. Popular and Malt Liquor also lost volume.

Although the beer industry saw positive changes in 2012, challenges still remain. According to the Beer Handbook, the beer industry will still see increases in the higher-priced categories such as Super-premium, Craft and Imported beer. It remains to be seen if these gains will help the beer industry maintain 2012’s positive direction.

“Today’s consumer no longer sees beer as their only drink option,” says Adam Rogers, senior research analyst, Beverage Information Group, Norwalk, Conn. “Spirits and wine marketers have been savvy in targeting consumers with flavored vodkas, rums and whiskies, as well as sweeter wines which have continued to take share away from the beer industry.”

For a mere $790, you can buy a copy of their annual Beer Handbook.

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Beer In Ads #1009: A Glass Of Mellow Beer Or Ale!


Wednesday’s ad is from 1941, and was for the United States Brewers Foundation, a trade group. Showing two couples bowling with the catchy tagline “Right down their alley … a glass of mellow beer or ale!” Take a look at the guy with the pipe walking by in the background. He looks like he’s checking out the ladies as he’s carrying a pair of beer bottles past their alley.

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Production Margins: Cost Breakdowns For Large Breweries

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Today’s infographic is titled “Production Margins,” and it’s a pie chart showing the Cost Breakdowns for a Large Breweries. It was created for a Powerpoint presentation on the Beer Industry by Christian Adeler and Jon Bjornstad in 2011. Not surprisingly, the raw materials to make the beer is the lowest percentage, while packaging and taxes eat up over half of the costs alone.

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Next Session Tackles Women In Beer

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For our 81st Session, our host is Nichole Richard — better known to the beer world as “Nitch” — who writes online at Tasting Nitch. She’s originally from the West Coast and lived in Hawaii, as well, has lived in 15 countries on three different continents, and is currently an expat living in France, and trying her best to “create a craft beer movement among cheap wine drinkers.” Her topic for this session asks bloggers to weigh in on the gender issue — Women in Craft Beer Culture. Are they “scary beer feminists?” Or “a healthy growing demographic?”

Feel free to write about what you want as long as it is beer and woman related!

I would love to see some of our historian beer bloggers give a bit of in depth back ground information on history of women in beer culture. Praise Ninkasi and what not, but were there male brewers before the fall of Rome?

Who did most the brewing in early colonized North America?

How is it that most current African brewers are still housewives while modern brewing is male dominated?

Do a feature on a woman in the beer industry!

Have you inspired your significant other to become beer culture involved? Call it, high five your beer loving wife day.

Are there any men out there who think that women in beer is a bad thing? For religious reasons, women aren’t allowed to tour many Trappist breweries and there are still French chefs who believe that a women on her menstrual cycle cannot make whip cream. (Truth.)

Woman’s palate’s are changing the direction of beer! Are women to blame for the recent increase in fruit beers? …

Are there any women out there who are crusading a flag of femininity while milling malt. Tell us your story!

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So two days from now, on Friday, November 1, shake off that post-Halloween hangover and no matter which gender you are, weigh in on the female half of humanity and their role in craft beer culture.

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Beer In Ads #1008: Sparkling … Flavorful … Distinctive!


Tuesday’s ad is for Miller High Life, from 1968. In what looks like another hunting lodge, or at least a rec. room, a group of middle-aged men are playing poker, or maybe bridge or even pinochle. But one of them is leaning against the fireplace, by the dog, as if he’s sitting out a hand, or perhaps already folded. The reason I know they’re middle-aged is because nobody else would have dressed like that in 1968, with slicked-down hair, button-down collars and such subdued colors. I don’t think I even realize they still made flannel shirts in the late sixties, although to be fair that turquoise cardigan is rather flamboyant. Sparkling … Flavorful … Distinctive! Indeed.

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Reuters Hinting At Possible ABI/SABMiller Merger

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Rumors and discussions of a possible merger between Anheuser-Busch InBev and SABMiller are nothing new, it’s been talked about by the business press off and on for a number of years now. But it had been quiet lately, most likely because of the deal by ABI to buy Grupo Modelo. But yesterday Reuters fanned the flames of merger once again, in a piece of speculation: Bets on for mega brewer merger as virgin ground shrinks.

With the acknowledged bullet points that “Asia main area with assets left to buy,” and that the ABI and SABMiller would combine the “growth markets” of Africa and Latin America,” they put the price for ABI to buy SABMiller at at least $100 billion. According to Reuters:

Now, with AB InBev planning to return to a comfortable pre-deal debt-to-EBITDA ratio of below two next year, industry experts are betting on a combination of its Budweiser and Stella Artois brands with SABMiller’s Peroni and Grolsch. Some expect a deal within a year.

“It’s more a question of when, not if,” said a banker who has worked on drinks deals. Others, also speaking on condition of anonymity, cited AB InBev’s record as a serial acquirer and the need for a target to match or surpass its $52 billion purchase of Anheuser Busch in 2008.

Asia, they claim, is the next frontier, though many of the bigger breweries are state-owned (which means expensive). Interestingly, while they admit that SABMiller would also be expensive the Reuters’ business analysts believe “a tie-up would be straightforward with antitrust issues relatively easy to fix and immediate benefits of scale.” Other analysts, however, do see potential problems with the merger from “regulators is in the United States and China” because of the market overlap in those countries.

Price, not surprisingly, is the elephant in the room, and the estimated $100 billion ticket price would make such a deal the “fifth-largest corporate acquisition ever.” Reuters places the current value of SABMiller at $84.5 billion and believes it’s in ABI’s best interest “to move fast before SABMiller gets more expensive.” But would SABMiller be interested in selling? “SABMiller’s two top shareholders — cigarette maker Altria Group and the Santo Domingo family of Colombia, which own 27 percent and 14 percent, respectively — ‘may think this is as good as it gets,’ said another banker.” So that suggests that the people behind the curtain might be amiable to the buyout. A couple of years ago, writing about this very possibility of a merger, I recalled that when the AB/InBev merger went down, someone joked that eventually there would be just one international beer company and it would just be called “Beer.” I remember laughing at the time, but truth really is stranger than fiction. So who knows? It should be an interesting year.

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ABI Beer Brands …

plus …

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SABMiller Beer Brands …

Equals = ?

SABMiller Testing Beer Brewed For Women

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Depending on your perspective, there’s good and bad news for women who love beer. Yesterday, Marketwatch casually mentioned that “SAB Miller, the world’s second largest brewer, is testing a new line of lighter and sweeter beers. Executives are also planning new ad campaigns geared towards women.” Other CBS affiliates, such as WREG Memphis, picked up the story but added little, apart from saying the new line will be “brewed especially for the ladies.” That’s all the information there is, so far, not even the SABMiller website has any additional information or a press release, at least not yet.

But if you’re one of those of the female persuasion that can be reduced to the stereotype of only liking sweet flavors, and don’t mind being pandered to, this just may be the beer for you. But if you’re a real person, like pretty much every beer lover I know who also happens to be a woman, this is probably just going to piss you off. I honestly don’t understand why the big beer companies keep trying this. Has it ever worked, anywhere in the world? People who understand and can appreciate the complex flavors of a good beer, will like it, irrespective of their reproductive organs. So just make good beer, educate your customers about it, and beer lovers — male and female — will drink it. Why is that so hard?

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