News BA Releases Craft Beer Production Numbers for 2023 – Production Down 1%

The Brewers Association (BA) released their annual production figures today for the U.S. craft brewing industry. Independently owned craft breweries had a production decline in 2023 of 1.0%. The number of operating craft breweries continued to climb in 2023, reaching an all-time high of 9,683.

Throughout the year, there were 495 new brewery openings and 418 closings. Openings decreased for a second consecutive year, with the trend reflecting a more mature market. The closing rate increased in 2023 but continued to remain relatively low, at approximately 4%. The total count of operating breweries includes 2,071 microbreweries, 3,467 brewpubs, 3,900 taproom breweries, and 245 regional craft breweries.

This is not the first decline for the segment. The pandemic year of 2020 showed a decline, and the BA has “readjusted” the numbers for 2022 that now show a small decline of “about half a percent,” said Bart Watson, vice president of strategy and chief economist of the Brewers Association in a virtual press conference this morning.

“2023 was another competitive and challenging year for small and independent brewers,” said Watson, “Nevertheless, even as growth has downshifted, small brewers have proved quite resilient, as seen in the increase in number of breweries, relatively low closing rates, and gains in onsite sales and jobs.”

Collectively, small and independent brewers produced 23.4 million barrels of beer in 2023, a decline of 1.0% from 20223, though craft’s overall beer market share by volume grew to 13.3%, up from 13.1% in 2022 as craft’s declines were smaller than overall beer volume losses.

The overall beer market* shrank 5.1% by volume in 2023. Retail dollar value was estimated at $28.6 billion, representing a 24.5% market share and 3% growth over a comparable value in 2022. Sales growth was stronger than volume primarily due to pricing but also due to slightly stronger onsite sales growth versus distribution.

“As always, the beverage alcohol market and consumer demand continue to evolve,” added Watson. ”Many brewers are accordingly updating their operations to match those changes, focusing on their business models, go-to-market strategies, and brand strategies to help their businesses match those shifts.”

In addition, the Brewers Association also released its annual list of the top 50 producing craft brewing companies and overall brewing companies in the U.S., based on beer sales volume. Of the top 50 overall brewing companies in 2023, 40 were small and independent craft brewing companies.

“While distribution is as competitive as ever, we continue to see success stories and pockets of growth across the top 50 list,” said Watson. “Even in an era of slow growth, the strongest brands still resonate with beer drinkers, regardless of company size or location.”

You can see the list of Top 50 craft brewing companies and top 50 overall brewing companies here.

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