In a story related to the news that craft beer growth was up 12% last year over the previous year, the southeast region of the country — including the states of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi and South Carolina — showed sales growth of almost 32%, the highest percentage in the nation. The sales figures used are from five types of retail locations: grocery stores, drug stores, convenience stores, big box retailers (warehouse stores, club stores, etc.), and liquor stores. The data was complied by Information Resources, Inc. (IRI) for a presentation to the Brewers Association last week.
Another interesting tidbit: seasonal beers are now the best-selling segment of beer, having eclipsed that of Pale Ale, which previously held the top spot.
Here are the geographic areas listed by their growth rate:
- Southeast = 31.6%
- Great Lakes = 28.1%
- Mid-South = 25.6%
- Plains = 20.8%
- Northeast = 19.1%
- South Central = 16.5%
- California = 13.7%
- West = 7.2%
Some additional observations.
1. Notice that there are seven states where beer cannot be purchased at grocery stores and the like.
2. What happened to Hawaii and Alaska?
3. Three of the regions showed growth of more than 25%
4. Only one region, the West (excluding California) was below 10% which suggests that craft beer is growing virtually everywhere and is not limited to small pockets of the country.
I have a tough time reconciling these numbers. How is it that seven of eight regions in the country have a growth rate above 13% yet the national average for craft beer growth works out to be 12%? Are Alaska and Hawaii experiencing such dramatic declines that they’re dragging the rest of the national average down? Not likely.
Sorry, but I’m going to exercise my right to not believe everything I read on the internet. This one doesn’t add up.
Far be it for me to dissuade you from not believing everything you read, but there is a good reason why the numbers “don’t add up” and that’s because they shouldn’t. The data from this chart is sales information collected by IRI and only in certain kinds of stores. It does not nor is it meant to reflect all beer sales nationwide. IRI data can only give a snapshot that is useful insofar as it shows trends within a certain segment of retail stores. It’s usefulness is limited but I thought it was an interesting picture to look at. The other 12% average came from the Brewers Association, who polls all member breweries and also uses other kinds of statistics on national sales data to compile their estimates. I probably wasn’t clear enough about that, but it’s apples and oranges, two different pictures both showing good, positive growth of craft beer. But because they’re collected differently, using different information they will never match up the way you’d like. Sorry abut the confusion.
Okay, got it. The data is selective for bottled beers in particular retail niches. But those numbers are still so widespread and high that some other factor must be an effective counterweight pulling overall growth rates down to 12%. Slack draught sales?
The regions with high double digit increases (ie S. East) are coming late to the craft movement and are measured against a much smaller volume base than those showing “lower” trends. For example the western region….includes craft strongholds WA & OR where craft exposion occurred years ago and the volume (or market share base) of craft segment is much higher than rest of the country.
Better measurement of relative growth and development would use craft share of total beer category.
Also as J notes, this is grocery store data only, no on premise, no draft. Additionally in many states the c-store or liquor store channels are more dominant for beer as a whole. We also know that crafts skew much higher in Liquor channels.
Finally, one thing in common across the states with big black X’s…grocery stores there sell only 3.2% (4%abv) beers.
Mic Lemi says
So this is only grocery stores and doesn’t include liquor stores? Someone mentioned that the West already had a craft beer explosion years ago, hence the small growth recently. I wonder if that is the case with the Northeast (where I reside) since we have quite a few micro-breweries as well as Sam Adams. What does anyone else think?