The TTB’s (Tax and Trade Bureau) August 2020 results for U.S. beer production have been released and they are in line with what was expected, 2020 versus same month 2019 shows a 2% increase. August 2020 barrel production was 15,733,232 versus 15,411,347 same month 2019. For the YTD period, January-August 2020 versus 2019, the aggregate decline in production was 1.9%. The reality is: the COVID impact was starting to be felt in February 2020 and that was precipitated a slight shift from kegs to bottle and cans-people not going out to brewpubs and taprooms.
Loss in barrels produced appear to have come from the large producers not the craft beer segment.
Having mentioned bottles and can packaging, August 2020 versus 2019 “In bottle and cans” August 2020 experienced a 10.4% increase in barrel quantity delivered in bottles and cans. Obviously, that as a significant impact in off-premise distribution. Kegs are the purview of taprooms and brewpubs. January-August 2020 versus 2019 had a 4.8% increase. Comparing two normalized years, 2019 versus 2018, 2019 had a 2.5% decrease in bottle and can volume.
A good assumption is that COVID-19 has really impacted distribution strategies for the craft beer industry. However, August 2020 versus 2019 had a 58% decrease in keg sales.
Brewers Association indicates, using 2019 data, that craft beer had a 13.6% share of the total U.S. beer market. The craft beer market segments are made up of: Regional, Taproom, Microbreweries, Brew Pubs, and Contract producers. In aggregate the craft beer market had a 3.6% increase in barrel production 2019 over 2018, while the industry in total had a 1.6% decrease 2019 versus 2018.
Using TTB data and assuming production of less than 60,000 barrels produced, 2019 versus 2018 (2019 is the last year of full year data), that group of brewers were 6,113 and 5,847 respectively. Comparing those years there was a 7.7% increase in production-60,000 barrels and less.
However, producers at virtually the same number, who produced 60,001-6,000,000, realized only a 4.1% increase in production. The above 6,000,001-barrel producer category is considered the large corporate (multi-national producers) and are not considered in the craft beer producer category.
The Brewers Association has defined the categories of craft brewer’s, but no brewer considered craft produce more than 6 million barrels. The categories are: Regional, Taprooms, Microbreweries, and Contract producers.
YTD 2020 has seen a decrease in total industry beer production. This goes for the craft brewers also.
The taproom operators have seen the biggest drop in sales due to the lockdown and that is also realized in the reduced beer sales in kegs and the increase in can and bottle sales.
As with wine sales, the move into premium branding has been the one bright spot.
Going forward into 2021 will require digging out of a deep hole that some small craft beer producers are outwardly saying the hole may be too deep; according to the BA that could be as high as 20% of small brewers leaving the industry.