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Nielsen: Mainstream Domestic, Imported Beer Sales Remain Sluggish While Crafts Soar

December 8, 2011

The U.S. beer market continues to struggle, according to the latest numbers from Nielsen. Off-premise volumes declined 1.9% in the most recent 52-week period (ending November 12) to 1.38 billion cases. The outlook appeared brighter on a value basis, as dollar sales inched up 0.6% to $28.6 billion during the same time period. The average price of beer in the off-premise increased 2.4% to $19.82 a case.

Craft and specialty brews continue to be the most vibrant segment in the beer category, surging 16.6% by volume in the 52-week period, with even stronger value growth (+17.8%) on an average price of $31.80 a case. The craft/microbrew segment is priced higher, on average, than imported brands ($27.59), yet imports fell 0.6% by volume during the same time span. Mexico continues to be the largest-selling origin for imported brews off-premise, at 78.7 million cases (+0.4%), but the fastest-growing source was Belgium (+28.9%).

Domestic beer sales posted a 2.1% decline in the 52-week period, with the super-premium ($24.12 a case) and below-premium ($14.71) segments falling 4.5% and 4.2% by volume, respectively. Even domestic light beers fared worse than the industry average, down 2.9% during the same period.

Nielsen tracks beer sales in food/drug/liquor/convenience stores and other channels, with volumes accounting for just over half the size of the total U.S. beer market, as measured by Impact Databank.

 

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