Premium beers saw growth as light beers declined in the US last year

Premium beers saw growth as light beers declined in the US last year

US beer volumes declined by 1.3% last year as consumers moved away from mainstream light beers, two new studies have shown.

Total beer volumes fell to 2.8bn 2.25-gallon cases for the year, according to Technomic's 2012 BeerTAB report, released yesterday (26 September). The Beverage Information Group's 2012 Beer Handbook, also unveiled yesterday, showed the same downward trend.

Light beer, which accounts for about half of total beer volumes in the country, dropped by 2.6%, according to Technomic, with other categories unable to make up the shortfall. Craft beer, however, grew by 11.2% and imported beer also improved, by 1.3%, as Mexican beers found growth in non-Hispanic markets, Technomic said. Crown Imports increased its share of the import sector to 44.2% on the back of its Mexican portfolio, which includes the Corona and Modelo brands.

Premium beers' better showing was reflected in an 11.8% rise in the super-premium sector, driven by product innovation and larger portfolios, Technomic said. A just-drinks report published yesterday showed that premium beer sales in the US were growing at twice the pace of the overall market.

Cider remained the smallest category but posted 31.3% growth, Technomic said.

"These pockets of growth indicate the consumer palate is changing, which represents new opportunities for the beer industry," said Donna Hood Crecca, senior director with Technomic's Adult Beverage Resource Group.

The Beverage Information Group said growth in craft and imported categories will continue, with imports grwoing at a slightly slower rate.

"We are looking to the craft segment to continue to spur growth in the beer industry,” said Adam Rogers, senior analyst for the Beverage Information Group. “Consumer interest is at its peak and there is unlimited potential for growth as more craft brewers enter the marketplace.”