Once again, I have the privilege of serving as Chairman of the Board of Directors of Beer Institute, a position I last held in 1995. The Beer Institute, as you know, is the successor organization to the U.S. Brewers Association and has played a long-term role in representing and defending the interestes of our industry. I commend our President, Ray McGrath and the Institute's staff for their loyalty and determination. They have been very successful in defeating potentially devastating legislative and regulatory initiatives over the last year.
1997 was especially challenging for the American brewing industry. The pressures of the last several years continue into the first quarter of '98 as we strive for growth in an extraordinarily competitive marketplace.
Demographic trends among consumers of legal purchase age will improve beginning in 1998. Consumer interest and intrigue surrounding our products continue to grow benefiting established brands. Many unique products have also secured stable niches in the marketplace. I am confident that the years ahead hold great promise in terms of increased sales and profitability for all brewers.
As we approach this period of great potential, we must keep in mind the fundamental purposes of our trade association. Beer Institute was established to provide our industry with the following:
I look forward to a challenging year for brewers and for Beer Institute. I hope that all members will feel free to contact me as we work to refine and achieve our public policy goals and to improve member services.