The popularity of craft beer in the US continued to rise in 2013, but not enough to prevent an overall drop in the beer market.
According to a report in USA Today, total US beer sales fell by 1.4% in 2013 dropping to to 2.8 billion 2.25-gallon cases, compared to 2.84 billion in 2012, based on results published by market tracking firm Technomic.
Craft beer production bucked the trend growing by 9.6% in 2013 to capture 7% of the total beer market, continuing a trend in recent years having increased from 5.5% in 2011, and from 6.3% in 2012.
In terms of volume craft beer rose by nearly 10% to 195 million cases, up from 178 million.
Donna Hood Crecca, senior director of Technomic’s adult beverage resource group, said: “In beer we are seeing people moving toward more flavourful, more unique styles and brands.”
“Consumers are really interested in exploring beer and getting into different flavour profiles and things that are compatible with different foods.”
As of June 2013, around 2,530 craft breweries were operating in the US – 98% being microbreweries, brewpubs and regional breweries – the highest total since the 1880s according to the Brewers Association.
Spending on craft beer has also risen in recent years accounting for 8.5% of the $62.3 billion total spend on beer in 2012, up from 7.5% of 2011’s $60 billion market, however figures for 2013 are yet to be finalised by Technomic.
However the biggest selling beer category is still light beer which makes up 50% of the US beer market.
Despite its popularity, the category saw a drop in sales in 2013 falling by 3.5% to 1.4 billion cases, while mainstream domestic beer volume fell 2.4% to 560 million cases.
Crecca added: “The core consumer of the major beer brands was among those hardest hit by the recession and some of them changed their consumption and purchase behaviours.”
“It really points to people looking for authenticity and hand-crafted product.”
“Some of the thinking also is that, ‘Hey, if I’m going to indulge and have a beer, I want to make it a really good and interesting beer.’ So they are willing to spend on the craft.”