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Mar Taxpaids Down Almost 3%; Q1 Off 1.4 Mil Bbls, 3.4%, Estimates Beer Inst; Little Import Relief

As expected, Q1 shipments shapin’ up very soft.  Domestic taxpaid shipments down another 432K bbls, 2.8% in Mar, estimates Beer Inst economist Michael Uhrich.  That followed modest gain in Jan, big drop in Feb.  For 3 mos, taxpaids down 1.4 mil bbls, 3.4%, thanks mostly to lost Leap Day, higher distrib inventories at end of 2016 and Easter timing.  Recall too, imports up just 205K bbls Jan-Feb.  So before Mar import # reported, US biz down 1.2 mil bbls, 2.6% in available data.  Recall Nielsen all outlet scans showed 1.2% decline thru Apr 1.  Most recent period showed a little improvement in scans (see below) but a slow start to the year all around.

INSIGHTS Express, Vol 19, No 72; April 18, 2017


Slow Q1 Scans Far Cry from 2016’s Fine Start; Shipments Even Softer; Top 2 Each Down 2.3% (excerpt)

Tuff Dec trends for beer biz continued into early 2017. With Q1 nearly in the books, sluggish start in Nielsen all-outlet scans and available shipments data differ sharply from last yr’s Q1.  In data thru Mar 25, just one week shy of full qtr, volume down 0.9% and $$ sales up an anemic 0.3% in Nielsen scans.  In Q1 last yr, industry volume up 2.3% and $$ trend a rosy +5.1%.  Wha’ happened?  Basically, imports kept pace and economy trends improved a bit, but premiums declined at faster pace, craft really slowed and FMBs reversed compared to Q1 last yr; cider still down high single-digits. Note too, while biz got avg price pop of +2.8% in Q1 last yr from trade up/price hikes, it’s just 1.2% so far this yr.  Meanwhile, Jan-Feb shipments considerably softer than scans.  US biz -2.4%, 750K bbls, with domestic brewers down 4% and imports up just 1% for 2 mos.  Compares to near 2% gain in Jan-Feb shipments trend last yr.  Wha’ happened?  Combo of Easter timing (pushed to mid-Apr), loss of Leap Day, crappy Calif weather and inventory drawdown (AB and MC inventories higher at end of 2016) blamed for blahs across board.  Will there be bounce back?

Beer Marketer’s INSIGHTS, Vol 48, No 7; April 10, 2017