American craft beer has met up with European consumers due in part to the efforts of the Brewers Association’s Export Development Program.
Bier & Co., Holland’s largest specialty beer importer/distributor, purchased four containers of U.S. craft beer valued at $110,000 for distribution in the Netherlands, Germany, UK, Ireland, Greece, Italy, and Switzerland earlier this year. Additionally, Netherlands retailer Mitra, has approached Bier & Co. about mixed packs of U.S. craft beers in 350 of Mitra’s stores. The negotiations of this deal are ongoing.
Since 2004 the BA has used funds from United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Market Access Program (MAP) to help promote the importance of U.S. craft beer in Europe. The BA uses these funds to educate U.S. breweries about export opportunities and build global recognition for the diversity and quality of American craft beer.
In 2006 with MAP funds the BA brought two representatives from Bier & Co. to the Great American Beer Festival to educate them about U.S. craft beer. Bob Pease, Vice President of the Brewers Association says, “The relationships developed at the Great American Beer Festival between Bier & Co. and U.S. craft breweries helped seal deals between Bier & Co. and three U.S. craft breweries (five more are pending).”
In addition to work with Bier & Co. the BA has been able (with the MAP funds) to attend the Stockholm Beer and Whisky Festival. Since 2004, Systembolaget, Sweden’s alcohol retail monopoly, has added four U.S. craft brands to its general list and many more to its seasonal and limited-time offerings (these companies include: Boston Beer Company, Brooklyn Brewery, Great Divide Brewing Co, Flying Dog Brewery, North Coast Brewing Company, and Rogue Ales).
Sweden now represents the largest export market for U.S. craft beers with exports in 2006 totaling in excess of $1 million. This figure does not include purchases from Left Hand Brewing Co. (Colorado), whose Milk Stout is set to launch in 200 stores in 2007.