State of the Industry
Industry Growth Pauses
As the second year of the new millennium comes to a close, the United States brewing industry likely will see a pause in their recent growth trend. After five consecutive years of growth, shipments from brewers and importers to their beer wholesalers are expected to hold near 2000's record level of 197.6 million barrels. This pause is primarily due to the national economic slowdown and the aftereffects of the September 11 attacks.
As a mature product category, beer is not subject to sharp and rapid sales fluctuations that occur in newer sectors of the national economy. Beer sales actually declined in the first half of the 1990's, primarily due to the 100 percent increase in the federal excise tax for beer in 1991. The industry's recent growth is in large part a result of an increase in the population of adults over the age of 21. Individual beer consumption trends have shown a decline since the early 1980's, a clear sign of successful public policies and private sector initiatives encouraging moderation and personal responsibility.
In addition to the news concerning beer shipments, consumer interest continues to grow in a wide range of beers, ales, and other malt beverage products. Approximately 2,800 malt beverage brands are now produced in the U.S., three times the number of brands produced a decade ago. U.S. and international brewers continue to produce a tremendous array of beer styles with solid niche markets continuing to develop for industry members of every size.
Consumer demand has sharply increased the number of U.S. brewers during the past 15 years. The number of domestic brewers in the U.S. has surpassed 1,800, seven times the number in business in 1990
Microbreweries and brewpubs account for this increase, and their presence has helped bolster the industry's long tradition as a dynamic part of the American economy. Smaller brewers have helped sustain the brewing industry's 'on-premise' business, particularly in urban centers and tourist destinations
International brands played a major role in industry growth and profitability throughout 2000, and thus far in 2001. The import sector is in its tenth consecutive year of growth, more than doubling in size during that period. Six of the top thirteen malt beverage suppliers in the U.S. are now import companies or American affiliates of brewers based in other countries
Major U.S. brewers continue to develop growing markets abroad through a combination of direct export shipments, licensing agreements, and foreign investment. American brewers now export products to approximately 100 nations and have established business relationships with dozens of their counterparts around the world
A strong U.S. economy and demographic changes should propel domestic sales toward a period of steady growth if brewers can avoid significant new tax or regulatory measures over the next several years. In some overseas markets, economic uncertainties exist; however, the long-term prospects for global industry growth are very strong. U.S. brewers have earned a national and international reputation for integrity and hard work, which will serve our industry well. International brewers doing business in the U.S. have been well received by the public, and are contributing to our industry's positive public image.