US craft beer exports are on the up

US craft beer exports are on the up

Exports by US craft brewers jumped by 72% to a record high in 2012, with the biggest growth coming from the Asia-Pacific region, according to an industry survey.

The US Brewers Association (BA) released figures yesterday (12 March) showing that international sales for craft beer companies in 2012 totalled US$49.1m. Exports to the Asia-Pacific region saw the biggest rise with volumes up 162%, but sales figures were not revealed. 

Breaking down figures in the region, the BA said shipment volumes to Japan were up 57% and brewers made “strong gains” in Australia, China and Hong Kong. 

Meanwhile, Thailand, Japan, Australia and China are now the industry's fourth, fifth and sixth largest export markets, respectively, the BA said.

Canada remained the largest export market for independent brewers, with volumes up 140% to 68,180 barrels, the survey revealed. 

Sweden and the UK retained their position as the next biggest importers of US craft beer, but volumes dropped in 2012. In Western Europe, volumes were up overall by 5.6%, while sales totalled $14.6m. 

“Consumers continue to view American craft brewers as leaders in innovation and among the standard bearers for quality,” said Bob Pease, the BA's chief operating officer. “Maintaining that perception is a priority for the craft brewing community.” 

A craft brewer is defined by the association as a company that has an annual production of 6m barrels of beer or less and "no more than 25% of the craft brewery is owned or controlled by an alcoholic beverage industry member who is not themselves a craft brewer". Last year, the BA accused global beer companies of trying to “blur the lines” between their products and "genuine" craft beers.