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<p>The craft brewing industry can toast 2015, a year marked by healthy growth in the category.</p>

Craft beer industry still growing

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Market research firm Mintel released its latest data on craft beer last week, and the news is good for brewers. According to the company, the craft beer industry is “predicted to see 22 percent dollar sales growth in 2015, moving the category to $24 billion.”

Last year, craft beer accounted for 8.5 percent of volume sales of the overall beer category, according to Mintel, up from 4.5 percent in 2009, representing an 83 percent increase. At the same time, overall beer volume declined by two percent. The National Brewers Association puts this figure even higher, stating that craft brews made up 11 percent of overall beer sales in 2014. The association also says sales of craft beers increased by 17 percent between 2013 to 2014.

Mintel preducts a slower rate of growth, however, through 2020, as consumers discover “an expanding range of alcohol options, craft-style launches from larger brewers and craft brewery acquisitions by larger beverage companies,” says the Mintel report.

Other revelations from the "Craft Beer – US – October 2015" report include:

• The craft beer category is growing with the launch of new breweries/brewpubs and the expansion of distribution markets.

• Craft beer is gaining on domestic beer. Craft consumption grew from 14 percent in 2011 to 19 percent in 2015 among US consumers aged 21+. “While a positive sign, craft consumption is still dwarfed by that of beer overall, which sees 46 percent penetration among this group,” write the Mintel researchers.

• 22 percent of Americans age 22+ who drink beer consider themselves knowledgeable about beer, increasing to 28 percent among Millennials.

• Women are a potential source of growth. “A strength of the craft beer category is its role as a point of entry among less likely beer drinkers, including women,” states Mintel. Whereas women are significantly less likely than men to drink beer overall (49 percent of women vs, 73 percent of men), the gap narrows when it comes to craft brews (14 percent of women vs. 20 percent of men). “A more expansive craft flavor profile may be one reason for this,” says Mintel.

• More customers are needed. “Preserving performance will require expanding the consumer base. While 61 percent of US consumers aged 22+ drink beer, only 17 percent drink craft, and only 10 percent of beer drinkers consider craft beer easy to find,” states the report.

“Craft beer sales are predicted to grow in 2015, further increasing market share, as the result of a perfect storm of factors, including an engaged consumer base interested in trying new products; a savvier group of shoppers invested in where their products come from and how they are made; and a market that responded with an elevated version of a familiar product that ticks all the boxes,” says Beth Bloom, food and drink analyst at Mintel. “Translating beer drinkers into craft drinkers will require increasing trial and further expanding availability.”

Contact Gina Ragone at [email protected].
Follow her on Twitter: @ragonegina

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