Absent the stage of the cancelled Craft Brewers Conference, Bart Watson took to the webinar screen to deliver his annual review of the craft beer market. Bart, economist for the Brewers Association (BA), covered 2019 with the caveat that this is where the industry “was,” and that last year’s craft beer industry has been forever changed by the coronavirus epidemic.
As covered in yesterday’s ProBrewer News post, craft breweries were up a total of 4% by volume and 6% by dollar sales in 2019 over the previous year. This single digit growth, down from 18% volume growth just five years ago is likely to be the new norm. Last year followed a 3% growth rate in 2018. Most of that growth came from newer breweries, with breweries operating for five years or less accounting for a whopping 94% of the total growth. Regional breweries, defined as producing over 60,000 bbls annually accounted for only 1% of the growth despite their large production size.
Last year saw a total of 8,326 craft breweries in operation. This may be the highest number of breweries in the US for a long time if not forever. Even before the current crisis, Bart estimated about 400 closings in 2020 after 294 closed in 2019. The BA now estimates that upwards of 2000 breweries may close by the end of 2020. Once the virus crisis shakeout occurs, “the next five years we may see openings and closings that are somewhat in balance,” said Bart.
Bart also described the quick evolution of the craft brewing industry into non-traditional beer products such as hard seltzer, kombucha and others with 21% of the craft breweries in the country now brewing non-traditional beer products.
For Bart’s full presentation go here.
For a list of industry-wide virtual webinars and conferences go to the ProBrewer “Essential Virtual Resources for the Brewing Industry” page here.