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Small And Independent Brewers See Sustained Growth In 2017

Brewers Association 2017 report

Last updated on March 29th, 2018 at 01:43 pm

The Brewers Association (BA), the trade association representing small and independent American craft brewers, has released 2017 data on U.S. craft brewing growth, and the news is good.

With more than 6,300 breweries operating during the year, small and independent craft brewers represent 12.7 percent market share by volume of the overall beer industry.

In 2017, craft brewers produced 25.4 million barrels, and saw a 5 percent rise in volume on a comparable base and an 8 percent increase in retail dollar value. Retail dollar value was estimated at 26.0 billion, representing 23.4 percent market share. Microbreweries and brewpubs delivered 76 percent of the craft brewer growth.

The growth of craft brewing is especially significant considering that the total beer market dropped 1 percent by volume in 2017, the BA notes.

“Growth for the craft brewing industry is adapting to the new realities of a mature market landscape,” said Bart Watson, chief economist for the BA. “Beer lovers are trending toward supporting their local small and independent community craft breweries. At the same time, as distribution channels experience increased competition and challenges, craft brewer performance was more mixed than in recent years, with those relying on the broadest distribution facing the most pressure.”

In 2017 the number of operating breweries in the U.S. grew 16 percent, totaling 6,372 breweries, broken down as follows: 3,812 microbreweries, 2,252 brewpubs, 202 regional craft breweries and 106 large or otherwise non-craft brewers. Small and independent breweries account for 98 percent of the breweries in operation. Throughout the year, there were 997 new brewery openings and only 165 closings—a closing rate of 2.6 percent. Combined with already existing and established breweries and brewpubs, craft brewers provided more than 135,000 jobs, an increase of greater than 6,000 from the previous year.

“Beer lovers want to support businesses that align with their values and are having a positive impact on their local communities and our larger society,” said Watson. “That’s what small and independent craft brewers are all about. The ability to seek beers from small and independent producers matters.”

A more extensive analysis will be released during the Craft Brewers Conference & BrewExpo America in Nashville, Tennessee from April 30 through May 3. The full 2017 industry analysis will be published in the May/June 2018 issue of The New Brewer, highlighting regional trends and production by individual breweries.

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