The First Half of 2014 Suggests the Industry “Can” Grow | NBWA: America's Beer and Beverage Distributors

The U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) recently released domestic production and domestic tax paid figures for the first six months of 2014 showing total U.S. malt beverage production growing 0.6 percent for a gain of more than 7.7 million case equivalents (560,000 barrels). The total production figure includes a healthy increase of export volumes of 17 percent and some inventory build at breweries of 1.3 percent or 1.2 million cases. 

More important for beer sales is the domestic tax paid figure that represents domestic cases sold to distributors by U.S. breweries. Year-to-date, this figure is basically flat, showing only a small volume decrease of around -0.2 percent.

However, a strong six-month import gain has volumes increasing 4.9 percent for a gain of 9.6 million case equivalents (700,000 barrels). When we combine U.S. domestic tax paid and import volumes, the total industry sits firmly in positive territory with a 0.6 percent gain of about eight million cases for the first six months of 2014. With imports growing almost 5 percent in the first half, total imports share of market rose to 14.4 percent, compared to 13.8 percent for the same time frame in 2013.

A deeper look into the industry data show some very interesting trends indicating how the industry has changed this year. A quick review of the table below shows that canned beer packages carried the industry in 2014, growing 3.1 percent by more than 23.1 million cases in just six months.

The growth in can share has come from both the import and domestic segments. For imported beers, data from the U.S. Department of Commerce show can volumes growing 18.5 percent YTD in June. Within imports, the can package now represents more than 20 percent of import volumes. Just 10 years ago the can business represented around 13 percent of total imports. For the domestic segment, the can business grew +3.1 percent based on data from the Can Manufacturers Institute.

For the first six months of 2014, the share for can packages has grown to 55 percent of the market. With six months of data on the books and six months to go, it is possible for the industry to end the year on a positive note. When continued innovation and news brands from across all segments combine with a rebounding economy, the industry has an opportunity to grow.

More good news for the industry was released this Thursday. The U.S. Commerce Department reported that July imports of malt beverages rose by 16 percent for the month. This gain brings year-to-date volumes to more than 6 percent.

The gains were led by Mexico growing 23 percent and the Netherlands growing 20 percent. With another strong showing from Mexican imports, the country’s total share of imports now stands at more than 63 percent.

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