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Not Quite the Last Word on 2016: Shipments Up, Depletions Down; Spirits Gain Share Again

Final final shipments figures for 2016 volume won’t be known for many months.  But looks like our first guess (in Jan 9 issue) was pretty close: US shipments up in range of half-mil bbls or so, +0.2-0.3%.  But at same time, gotta note AB InBev report for 2016 estimated total US sales to retailers down 1% for the yr.  That trend suggests loss of 2 mil bbls.  As it turns out, AB and MC both announced shipments trends ahead of STRs for the yr, a 0.3 difference at AB, 1.2 difference at MC.  That’s almost 1 mil bbls right there.  Then too, TTB reports gain of at least 600K bbls in “premises use,” volume in 2016, a decent proxy for taproom biz.  That’s beer not shipped to retailers.  Meanwhile, scan data showed weak gains off premise in 2016.  Nielsen’s most comprehensive database reports gain of just 0.2%, IRI’s 0.5%.  And Nielsen’s on-premise figures for the year show a 2% decline.  All in, a modest STR decline makes sense.  Importantly, no matter how you cut it, beer underperformed spirits and wine again in 2016.  Best estimates available right now suggest beer lost another half-share of absolute alcohol volume in 2016, with 0.4 going to spirits, 0.1 to wine.  That’s 15th straight drop in share of absolute alcohol by our count.  Beer’s share fell below 50% for the first time since late 1970s.  Beer at 49.6 share of abs alc volume in 2016, we figure, spirits at 34.6, wine at 15.8.  Separately, Distilled Spirits Council calculates beer’s share of producer revs also fell about a half-point in 2016, to even lower level of 47 share, with similar gains for spirits and wine, at 35.9 and 17.1 share respectively.

Publishing Info

  • Year: 2017
  • Volume: 48
  • Issue #: 5
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