In 2014, Cans Win, Bottles Lose and Draft Remains a Zero Sum Game | NBWA: America's Beer and Beverage Distributors

Final December numbers from the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) on national domestic beer shipments were released Monday. This release from the TTB closes out the last 2014 report for total industry accounting. The combination of domestic tax paid and imported volumes represent the total amount of beer available for sale in the United States. This is the only measure we have of total industry volumes that cover all domestic brewers, brewpubs and importers of malt beverages.

As previously reported, domestic volumes were down slightly (-0.6% CY), but import volumes rose significantly (+6.9% CY) to bring total industry volumes (+0.4%) into positive territory. While looking relatively flat, the industry saw some significant shifts in package mix between cans, bottles and draft. The table below shows combined domestic and import volumes for 2013 and 2014 with volume changes and shares.

The data above show that the can segment was the big winner in 2014, growing more than 30 million cases and gaining almost 1 share point of total volumes from 2013. Bottle packages lost almost 18 million cases and subsequently lost almost all of their share to can packages. Draft, on the other hand, continues to hold a 10 share of the market, losing only about 1.2 million case equivalents (CEs).  The shift between can and bottle packages in the marketplace was seen in both import (+18%) and domestic (+1.1%) volumes. Clearly, the can package has managed to break into the high-end beer business where glass has traditionally had a hold for both craft and imported beers. Craft beer’s expansion into more channels from convenience to airlines over the past few years also has helped increase can packages share of total business.

The conundrum for the beer industry is draft beer. Despite significant growth in brewpubs, taprooms and festivals driven by smaller brewers with a heavy draft mix, the total share of draft beer continues to be stuck at around 10 percent share of market and actually declined in 2014.

The graph above shows draft beer share grew from 9 percent in early 2005 to more than 10 percent in 2011; however, share growth slowed from 2011 to 2014 despite significant growth in the number of small brewers and brewpubs. In fact, the volume of draft beer shipped in 2014 at 287 million case equivalents is about the same volume that was sold back in 1954 at 255 million cases. In more than 60 years, the same total volume of draft beer is consumed around the country.

To receive additional information, please contact NBWA Chief Economist Lester Jones at