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Craft $$ Down 5% for 4 Wks in Nielsen; Foodstore Flop; Last Yr’s Off-Prem Gains Washin’ Away?

Off-premise picture is quickly gettin’ softer for beer in Mar and craft beer segment is experiencing one of the biggest swings from prior gains to decline and share loss. Craft beer $$ sales down 5% and volume down 7% for latest 4 wks thru Mar 20 in Nielsen off-premise data, as total beer $$ flat, volume down 4%. So craft beer lost 0.6 share of total beer $$ for 4-wk period. At +7.7% YTD, it’s now starting to lose a bit of share YTD too compared to gaining 0.3 share of $$ YTD thru Feb 27. But craft ain’t alone. Premium light (-7%), below premium (-10%), premium regular (-6%), cider (-7%) and malt liquor (-12%) all declined at steeper rates. Both premium lights and below premium shed 1.3 share of beer $$ and premium regular off another 0.5 share for 4 wks. Imports (+6%), superpremium (+3%) and FMBs ex-seltzer (+7%) impressively still managing to grow and gain share. And the darling hard seltzer category still up 30% for 4 wks. But multiple major brands are declining in segment for period, including White Claw volume down 3.5%, $$ up just 0.5%, Corona Seltzer $$ down 1.6%, Smirnoff seltzer $$ down 20%. In foodstores, White Claw $$ declined 17%. Things are changing fast.

Indeed, foodstores continue to take the brunt of the hit lapping last yr’s pantry loading, and plenty of short-term trends are striking in this channel. Total beer $$ down closer to 6% for 4 wks in this channel while craft slipped 9% and even domestic superpremium down 5% as Mich Ultra, a consistent lead beer growth brand in recent yrs, suddenly off 4% for 4 wks too (tho still growing and gaining share in all outlet + convenience). Among top craft brand families, Sam Adams (-22%), Blue Moon (-11%) and Lagunitas (-12.5%) all declined significantly for 4 wks, while both Sierra (+0.5%) and New Belgium (+1.4%) barely up, vs +9% and +19.5% YTD thru Mar 20. But once again, c-stores are key, and New Belgium’s sustained 50+% growth in c-store channel for 4 wks helped co maintain low-double-digit growth pace overall in total Nielsen off-prem universe, +14%. And that’s without including hard seltzer. Then too, while top cider brand Angry Orchard slipped more than 20% in foodstores and -19% in total Nielsen off-prem (at similar pace as its craft beer brother, Sam Adams), top regional cideries slowed significantly as well, including Downeast and Austin Eastciders each down 5% for 4 wks; ABV’s Bold Rock cider still up 6% and 2 Towns up 12% (excluding seltzer and other FMBs in their respective portfolios).

All that said, gotta recall that total beer biz and craft beer segment were growing more than 20% on a weekly basis this time last year. Beer $$ still up 7.8% and craft up 7.7% YTD thru Mar 20 in total Nielsen data. So beer is well ahead of where it was in 2019 off-premise, even as the 2-year gains are dwindling in most recent period. Plus, on-premise sales are starting to grow again while lapping last year’s shutdown period, tho beer volume still down 33% per account vs 2019 for latest weekend from Mar 25-28, according to separate BeerBoard data. Could all this action end up a flattish wash for the industry? Regardless of how it nets out, beer biz’s makeup underneath the hood continues to change rapidly. 

Publishing Info

  • Year: 2021
  • Volume: 12
  • Issue #: 29
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 Craft Update 2021

By Beer Marketer’s Insights
Presented by Chris Shepard & David Steinman,
the Editors of Craft Brew News
March 3, 2021 - Part 1
April 28, 2021 - Part 2
1pm Eastern Time
90-minutes including Q&A

Click Here to Register