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Seasonals, craft brews provide boost to beer segment

BY Barbara White-Sax

Craft beers — particularly seasonals — have provided much-needed innovation to the beer category, providing the category with double-digit sales increases for the last several years. Craft brews’ sales were up 16.2% for the 52 weeks ended in early October 2011, according to the Brewers Association. While craft brews represent 4.9% of total beer category volume, the segments accounts for 7.6% of retail dollar volume.

Seasonals and variety pack sales “continue to explode,” according to Dan Wandel, SVP beverage alcohol client solutions at SymphonyIRI Group. Craft seasonal, craft India pale ales and craft pale ales held the top three best-selling craft beer positions in supermarkets in 2011, according to SymphonyIRI data. Variety packs, amber ale, amber lager, wheat, bock and fruit beers also made the top 10 list of best-selling craft beers.

Wandel does see some weakness in the craft segment due to a proliferation of SKUs, increased competition from Anheuser-Busch and Coors, and higher pricing. Increased competition in this highly competitive segment, Wandel said, already has challenged sales growth for large craft brewers. The Brewers Association noted that higher pricing in the craft segment already has led to some growth deceleration.

 

The article above is part of the DSN Category Review Series. For the complete Beverages Buy-In Report, including extensive charts, data and more analysis, click here.

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Drug stores drink up beer

BY Barbara White-Sax

The drug store channel has had strong sales in the beer category despite lackluster industry performance. Dollar sales for the beer category in drug were up nearly 6% for the year to date ended Oct. 30, 2011, according to SymphonyIRI Group data. Food and convenience store beer sales were up only 0.6% and 2%, respectively.

Beer volume sales have been declining; the category has dipped 2% this year, according to Eric Shephard, executive editor of Beer Marketer’s Insights. “Unemployment has hit the mainstream beer drinker harder than craft beer or wine drinkers,” Shephard said. He added that marketing has not been as effective as in recent years.

Light beer sales, which account for more than half of all beer sales, according to SymphonyIRI, continue to decline. Shephard said that Anheuser-Busch’s new version of Bud Light Platinum, slated for introduction in first quarter 2012, should have some impact on the category.

After a slide in sales, imports are up slightly. “Crown has had a good year with Modelo Especial and new larger bottle packaging of Corona. The Victoria intro has also gone well,” Shephard said.

Anheuser-Busch’s Stella Artois and Molson Coors’ Dos Equis brands also have had strong sales this year, and Shephard said he sees an uptick in Heineken sales.

While the economy has put a damper on category growth, the environment has been good for private-label beer sales. “A new wave of proprietary and private-label beer brands has emerged and are gaining traction in both the sub-premium and craft segments,” said Dan Wandel, SVP beverage alcohol client solutions at SymphonyIRI.

Wandel said that 2011 has been a record year for private-label beer sales, based on both case and dollar sales. “Private label had grabbed a 1.4 share of total beer case sales and 0.9 share of total beer dollar sales in total U.S. drug stores year-to-date,” he said.

 

The article above is part of the DSN Category Review Series. For the complete Beverages Buy-In Report, including extensive charts, data and more analysis, click here.

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Cracking slow growth

BY Barbara White-Sax

Cookies and crackers are a mature category with slow growth. Private label has been strong in the cookie category, a trend Mintel expected to continue for the next few years. Kraft Foods leads the category with its powerhouse Oreo and Chips Ahoy! brands.

Kraft also leads in the branded cracker category with a 37% market share, according to Packaged Facts, despite poor performance from its Ritz and Wheat Thins lines this year. Consumers remain interested in reduced sodium products.

 

The article above is part of the DSN Category Review Series. For the complete Cookies Sell-Through Report, including extensive charts, data and more analysis, click here.

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