Imports, Craft and FMBs Show Gains While Overall Beer Volume Falls

Norwalk, Conn., (October 23, 2019) – Overall beer consumption continued to slide, with total volume decreasing 1.3% to 2.77 billion 2.25-gallon cases in 2018, according to the Beverage Information Group’s 2019 Beer Handbook. This marks the sixth consecutive year of declines in total beer consumption, as U.S. consumers seek out cocktails, spirits and wine.

Craft beer growth continues to slow, but posted a 4.0% gain in 2018 to 322 million cases, boosting the category’s market share to 11.6%. But with so many craft, seasonal and local styles hitting shelves, consumers are overwhelmed with an excess of beer choices.

The imported beer category has grown 5.1% on average in the past five years, with Mexican brews largely driving consumption. Modelo in particular shot up 12.9% in 2018 to 110 million cases. And while category-leading brand Corona fell 1.9% last year, new brand extensions Corona Familiar and Corona Premier have experienced impressive growth levels.

The big story is Flavored Malt Beverages (FMBs), up a whopping 7.3% in 2018 to 128 million 2.25-gallon cases. That’s the highest increase for any part of the overall-sagging beer market, thanks to hard seltzer. The FMB category includes coolers, hard sodas, ready-to-drink beverages, but hard seltzers are where the action is

Barely even a category four or five years ago, hard seltzer is now one of the fastest-growing segments of the alcohol industry, led by Truly from Boston Beer, and White Claw from Mike’s Hard Beverage Co.

As far as other categories, light beer continues to shrink, down 3.6% in 2018, to 1.18 billion 2.25-gallon cases. Still, light beer represented 42.6% of the overall U.S. beer market in 2018. The popular beer category continues its steady decline for the last nine years with an average loss of 3.3%.

The ice beer category declined by 3.2% to 77.71 million 2.25-gallon cases in 2018, while malt liquor beer decreased by 4.2% to 50.47 million 2.25-gallon cases in 2018. Malt liquor was hurt by the increasing trend of premiumization in the craft- and imported-beer categories. What’s more, the distilled spirits industry--notably brandy/Cognac, vodka and tequila brands—have been pursuing malt liquor’s main demographic.

About the 2019 Beer Handbook

The Beverage Information Group’s 2019 Beer Handbook is the most comprehensive source of information on U.S. beer industry sales trends. It includes consumption and projection information by category and by market, tracks leading brands and reports historical data. 

The 2019 Beer Handbook is available for $975; the handbook with Excel file is $1,875. The publications can be purchased at www.bevinfostore.com.