The US craft beer segment appears to be edging closer to saturation

The US' craft beer segment appears to be edging closer to saturation

Consolidation within the US craft brewing sector is moving closer as the rate of new producers emerging is outpacing segment volumes, an industry research group has warned. 

The number of craft brewers operating in the US on-trade rose by 17% last year, while the number of craft brands grew by around 22%, Guestmetrics said. However, craft beer volumes in bars and restaurants only increased by high-single digits during last year and mid-single digits in this year's Q1, the company said. 

"While we don’t necessarily see a shake-out in the near term, looking out at the next three-to-five years, the question will be the sustainability of the economics of a lot of the new entrants, given the declining volume per available brand," said Bill Pecoriello, GuestMetrics' CEO. 

Out of the 22% expansion in craft brands being sold in the on-trade, around three-quarters is due to more craft brewers existing, Guestmetrics said. Around a quarter of that growth is because of more brands being sold per brewer. This is also "putting pressure on sustainability, particularly for the newer entrants in the segment," the company said.

Overall, US volumes of craft beer rose by 15% in 2012, giving the sub-category a 6.5% share of the country's beer market, the Brewers Association reported in March