The Brewers Association (BA) released annual growth figures for the U.S. craft brewing industry, showing a 4% increase in 2018 for BA-defined craft brewers. Collectively, the 7,346 craft breweries operating in 2018 produced 25.9 million barrels for the year, increasing craft’s overall beer market share by volume to 13.2 percent.
The 2018 growth rate continues the tend of settling into mid single-digit growth. The previous growth rate was 6% in 2016 and 5% in 2017.
The 4% growth number was not like the recent boom years when craft grew at double-digit rates, but also not unexpected given scan data results hovering in the 3-4% growth range for the year. Given the lethargic growth of the overall beer category over the last decade, craft continues to be the bright spot – even at mid-single digit growth. The overall beer industry dropped 1% by volume in 2018.
“Craft maintained a fairly stable growth rate in 2018 and continued to gain share in the beer market,” said Bart Watson, chief economist, Brewers Association. “Small and independent brewers continue to serve as job creators, strong economic contributors, and community beacons.”
According to the BA, there were 1,049 new brewery openings and 219 closings—a closing rate of 3 percent during 2018.
“The beer landscape is facing new realities with category competition, societal shifts, and other variables in play. There are still pockets of opportunity both in terms of geography and business model, but brewers need to be vigilant about quality, differentiation, and customer service,” added Watson.