Trendspotting: The Craft Beer Invasion

The craft beer category--which includes brands such as India pale ale--continues to boom. In 2013, craft sales have increased 15.4% in volume.


If you detect a change in the shelves at your local supermarket beverages section you’re not hallucinating. Craft beer continues its invasion.

“Supermarkets, big-box chains and convenience stores are all devoting increased space and attention to the category,” reports Shanken News.

Indeed the craft beer category–which includes brands such as India pale ale–appears to be booming.

In 2013, craft sales have increased 15.4% in volume. As of May, 2,514 breweries call the US home. 1,559 are in planning stages. Some suggest the movement is a bubble, and not sustainable long-term.

Even the big chains are adjusting to consumer preferences.

“Big-box retailer Costco is also exploring new ways to increase its craft participation, currently stocking up to 20 different large-format beers ranging from $5 to $23 a bottle.”

Parallels are being drawn with the wine industry. The Daily Tidings suggests that people buy basic beer on the weekend for entertaining. But during the weekdays “a lot more people drink it for taste.

Craft beers are typically 75% more expensive than premium domestics.

I’ve yet to see any reports that suggest craft beer is impinging on wine sales. It’s unlikely. The two are obviously very different adult beverages. Though typically close by, most retailers have them separated by at least one aisle. A buyer on a mission for beer, is on a mission for beer. A buyer on a mission for wine, is on a mission for wine. Would one steal a sale from the other? I doubt it. But it would be interesting to see the data. More likely: craft beer is taking share from the big, traditional brewers.

Though the category is relatively small compared to the overall market, the margins can be very high. And growth rates exceed that of other categories. Whether or not the craft beer boom continues will be one of the more interesting food and wine story lines to follow over the coming months and years ahead.

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