Brewers Assn-defined craft brewer production increased another 5% in 1st half of 2017, org reported today. So growth slowed a little bit further, but remained in mid-single-digit range, BA economist Bart Watson estimates. BA craft production trend “stabilized at a rate that still reflects progress but in a more mature market,” he said in statement. “Although more difficult to realize, growth still exists.” Recall, BA craft volume grew by just over 6% in 2016. At this time last yr, Bart estimated craft production up about 8%. “Many brewers are benefitting from on-premises and taproom sales,” Bart continued. True. But so far this yr, federal TTB hasn’t provided any info on “premises use” volume to see how fast that might be growing.
Instead, Bart and BA come up with this estimate based on member surveys and other indicators. Breweries under 15K bbls last yr reported average of 25% growth, Bart wrote in accompanying (members-only) blog post. Almost 3/4 of those brewers up more than 5%, while just 15% of ’em down steeper than 5%. Looking at scan data, craft segment +3.6% by volume in IRI multi-outlet + convenience data thru July 16 recall. Like last yr, biggest craft brewers struggling to grow with Boston Beer and Sierra Nevada both down. Yuengling (which BA also considers craft) volume off 0.5% during that period too. Some other big players that BA doesn’t consider craft due to M&A also still growing quickly in IRI. But BA-defined craft volume up incredibly similar 3.7% YTD, Bart shared with CBN. “It’s impressive in a year when AB has put their foot down on their craft brands that independent craft still eking out a bit more growth,” he told us. Indeed.
Of course, half-yr check-in with BA also means look at continued growth in new breweries. BA counted 5,562 operating breweries in US thru June 30. That’s up by over 900 since this time last yr. Notably, that’s similar number of new breweries as reported in mid-2016, so pace of openings not really accelerating. However, BA also counted over 2700 breweries in planning, about 500 more than there were last summer.