Beverage Industry

Craft beer grows double-digits in 2012

March 18, 2013

In 2012, the total U.S. beer market grew by 1 percent; however, craft beer grew 15 percent in volume and 17 percent in dollar sales, representing a total barrel increase of nearly 1.8 million, according to preliminary data from the Brewers Association, Boulder, Colo.

With production at approximately 13.2 million barrels in 2012, craft brewers reached 6.5 percent volume of the total U.S. beer market, up from 5.7 percent the previous year. Additionally, craft dollar share of the total U.S. beer market reached 10.2 percent in 2012, as retail dollar value from craft brewers was estimated at $10.2 billion, up from $8.7 billion in 2011, the association reports.

“Beer is a $99 billion industry to which craft brewers are making a significant contribution, with retail sales share hitting double digits for the first time in 2012,” said Paul Gatza, director of the Brewers Association, in a statement. “Small and independent brewers are consistently innovating and producing high-quality, flavor-forward craft-brewed beer. Americans are not only responding to greater access to these products but also to the stories and people behind them.”

In 2012, there was an 18 percent increase in the number of U.S. operating breweries, with the total count reaching 2,403. This count includes 409 new brewery openings and 43 closings, according to the Brewers Association. Small breweries created an estimated 4,857 more jobs during the year, employing 108,440 workers, compared with 103,583 the year prior, it adds.

“On average, we are seeing slightly more than one craft brewery per day opening somewhere in the U.S., and we anticipate even more in the coming year,” Gatza said in a statement. “There is clearly a thirst in the marketplace for craft-brewed beer, as indicated by the continued growth year after year. These small breweries are doing great things for their local communities, the greater community of craft brewers, our food arts culture and the overall economy.”

Craig Purser, president and chief executive officer of the National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA), noted the importance of independent beer distributors in craft beer's success.

"The NBWA is proud of the role that independent beer distributors play in the development of a thriving craft beer industry,” Purser said in a statement. “The tremendous growth in craft beer sales underscores the excitement of independent beer distributors in partnering with America’s craft brewers to help them reach a wide network of retailers and increase their value.”

“This success is due in large part to the effectiveness of the independent distribution system that allows access to market for brewers of all sizes and a state-based regulatory system that works to level the playing field between brewers, distributors and retailers,” Purser continued. “Today’s marketplace offers an unparalleled number of styles, varieties and flavors of beer to consumers from coast to coast, and American consumers are demonstrating they enjoy this vast variety.”