The Australian Brewery's David Ward has just returned from The National Beer Wholesalers Association’s annual convention and trade show in Las Vegas and made some interesting observations about the craft beer market both here and abroad.
Last week I arrived back in the country from The National Beer Wholesalers Association’s annual convention and trade show in Las Vegas. It was great to take a look into the world of craft beer in America and whilst I was expecting the craft market to be striving ahead over there, I didn’t expect it to be so huge and advanced. It is almost frenzied and it’s really causing a stir with the mainstream brands.
The $12 billon dollar industry is booming and being propelled by Gen Y’s pouring into bars and bottle shops to get their favourite boutique drop. I would say that the main driver influencing buying behaviour for consumers is attributed to the interest in a brewery’s local story. I believe this is driving the uptake of craft beer over the mainstream brands both here and more so in the states.
The size of the industry in America absolutely dwarfs what we believe to be a ‘big craft brewery’. Take the Boston Beer Company for example, which produces America's most popular craft beer, Samuel Adams. They only represent one percent of the beer market, but their revenue is close to $1.5 billion per annum, producing 900 million litres of beer annually.
At the event, I noticed the major manufacturers were trying to reassure their distributors they are working to win back the business lost to craft beer. This is a good sign for us, as Australian Craft Brewers is looking to expand into these overseas markets. Some of us have already dabbled in America with companies such as Coopers, James Squires and a few others making the shift.
The psyche is starting to shift with Australian beer now being seen as a premium product by international beer drinkers. And distributors are interested in the Australian offering. Despite the steady decline in beer sales in Australia since the late 70s, the consumption of craft beer is increasing by six percent every year.
With so many craft operations springing up all over the country, it is nice to see these smaller operations gaining some recognition. While I still think Australia is about five to 10 years behind the United States when it comes to a developed craft beer category, we are certainly moving in the right direction. It will be interesting to see if an international audience will share our tastes in craft beer.