Per capita beer consumption in the US last year rose slightly, returning to the same level as 2002, according to recent research.

'Beer in the US', a report from research company Beverage Marketing Corporation, has noted that consumption of beer in the country in 2007 hit 22 gallons. The slight lift followed a reverse of the decreases in the early years of the 21st century in 2006, the report noted.

"While the decreases in the early years of the 21st century were in the order of one or two tenths of a gallon from one year to the next, they became a steadily recurring phenomenon," the company said in the report.

While imports, which had been one of the most vibrant segments of the US beer market, slowed considerably in 2003 and performed weakly in 2004, in 2005, imports revived, but not enough to counterbalance the contraction in domestic shipments, which resulted in essentially no change in the size of the beer market. "Imports played a crucial role in volume growth in 2006, when their volume again advanced at a double-digit percentage growth rate," the report said. "In addition, the largest US brewer, Anheuser-Busch, had a sizeable increase in shipments of domestic brands in 2006. While the biggest US beer maker's domestic shipments stalled in 2007, the next two largest brewers enjoyed solid growth, which contributed to another year of overall beer volume enlargement despite slow growth in the import segment.

In 2007, total beer volume in the US increased by 1.4%.