Beer volumes in the US are set to fall for the second year in a row, according to new Beer Institute figures that highlight a number of challenges facing the category.

The Beer Institute, a Washington DC-based trade association, said late last week that shipments in 2018 could drop by as much as 3%, compounding a 1.3% decline last year. Even a best-case scenario estimates a 1% fall, the organisation warned.

"While I'd very sincerely love to be wrong, I'm predicting another down year for beer," said BI chief economist Michael Ulrich on Twitter.

The estimate comes after a tough 2017 for beer, according to Beer Institute data. Value beer was the only segment to grow in the 12-month period, and beer's share of alcohol servings dropped below 50% for the first time. Meanwhile, the previously fast-growing craft segment only found growth through "own-premise" sales - products sold through taprooms, brewpubs and other direct sales.

Import growth"slowed dramatically" on the back of the falling US dollar that made foreign goods more expensive, Ulrich said. Almost all of the growth was in Mexican beer.

The chief economist said challenges will persist in 2018.

Expert analysis

Our Changing Energy Routine: Global Energy Drinks, Caffeine and Energy-Boosting Products

Our Changing Energy Routine: Global Energy Drinks, Caffeine and Energy-Boosting Products

This report explores the changing energy drinks category, which remains one of the fastest growing areas of the global soft drinks industry. Energy drinks are placed in the context of wider, increasin...read more