The Brewers Association’s monthly Power Hour showcased the 2016 year-in-review with Dan Wandel of IRI – and it wasn’t pretty. The title of the hour-long presentation was “Turn the Page,” a reference to the struggling sales in the last year. Dan said the craft beer industry slowed down both “suddenly and substantially” and described the year as “sobering.” He said that most brewers he talked to had a “highly challenging” year.
But at least we didn’t see any negative numbers in the craft segment, and craft growth continues to be stronger than the total overall beer category. Off-premise scan data showed craft was up was up 6.3% compared to 3.1% for total beer. But that is definitely a change from the past compared to craft growth of 15% in 2015 and the double-digit growth craft has been showing since 2004. But it could be worse. “Big beer” premiums were down over 3% and sub-premium beers were down 2% in 2016.
Not surprisingly, 2016 was another year of massive new brand introductions. In the off-premise retailers tracked by IRI, there were a record 1,385 new beer brands. Also not a surprise was the growth of craft in cans. Canned craft beer in grocery stores grew by 53% for a totally dollar share of 17% of total craft sales.
A lot of changes in the industry to be sure. One thing Dan noted was that nearly half the CEOs of the top 25 craft brewers have changed over the past two years.