American Craft Brewers are now Bracing for a Shakeout

Jennifer Maloney reported last week at The Wall Street Journal Online that, “Some of the country’s biggest craft brewers are struggling with falling sales, hurt by a glut of competitors crowding retail shelves and moves by megabrewers to scoop up some of their rivals.

“‘It is more competitive than it has ever been,’ said Ken Grossman, founder and chief executive of Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., the No. 2 U.S. craft brewer by volume.

His company’s retail-store sales were off 7.5% this year as of July 16, according to Beer Marketer’s Insights. The brewer’s shipment volumes fell 6.9% in 2016—its first decline since Sierra Nevada was founded in 1980. Just two years ago, the Chico, Calif., company logged record sales after opening a second brewery in North Carolina.”

The Journal article noted that, “After years of strong gains, American craft brewers are now bracing for a shakeout. Shipments are falling for many independent brewers stuck in the middle between local niche brands and competitors that were bought by heavyweights such as Anheuser-Busch InBev and Molson Coors.

“Besides Sierra Nevada, those losing ground include Sam Adams maker Boston Beer Co., the biggest independent brewer, as well as smaller producers such as F.X. Matt Brewing Co., which brews Saranac in upstate New York, and Abita Brewing Co. in Louisiana, according to Beer Marketer’s Insights.”

Last week’s Journal article added that, “There were 5,562 total breweries in the U.S. as of June 30, up roughly 900 from the previous June, according to the Brewers Association.”

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