Chapter 1

U.S. Beer Industry

Beer Sales Domestic and Imported

After rising more or less steadily since the repeal of prohibition, U.S. beer sales have been relatively flat since the mid-1980s. The period of booming sales of the 1970s is now but a distant memory for the beer industry. In 2007, total U.S. beer sales were 212.9 million 31.5 gallon barrels, slightly up from the previous year's level of 209.8 million barrels as shown in Table 1.1. Sales of domestic beer production were about 183.0 million barrels in 2007, slightly up from the previous year's level of 180.5 million barrels, but down from the 1990 record level of 184.4 million barrels. Imported beer volume increased by 1.4% to nearly 30 million barrels, making 2007 the first-year imports under performed in the U.S. beer market since 1991 (which also happens to be the last year they declined).

Beer Sales by National Brewers

Sales for the country's three biggest brewers-Anheuser-Busch, Inc., SAB-Miller, and Molson Coors Brewing Company-were about 169.6 million barrels or about 79% of total domestic beer sales in 2007. Anheuser-Busch outperformed the industry with beer sales at about 105.2 million barrels, followed by SAB-Miller at an estimated 40.2 million barrels, and Coors at approximately 24.3 million barrels.

Top Beer Brands

The top ten beer brands in 2007 had combined shipments estimated at 142.5 million barrels, up from last years level at 141.5 million barrels (see Table 1.2).

Off- On-Premise Sales

Approximately three-quarters of the volume of beer marketed in the United States are for off-premise consumption, whereas only a quarter is consumed on-premise. The beer sold for on-premise consumption, however, contributes nearly half of all retail dollar sales.

Factors Affecting Beer Sales

The U.S. beer industry has encountered a number of challenging economic as well as powerful demographic and cultural trends that have hurt sales and will likely continue for years to come.

Per Capita Consumption

Among commercial beverages in 2006, beer ranks fourth in per capita consumption behind carbonated soft drinks, bottled water, and coffee followed by milk and fruit drinks/cocktails (see Table 1.3). Per capita beer consumption rose rapidly during World War II, declined during the 1950s and the early 1960s, increased before peaking in the early 1980s, and has generally leveled-off thereafter.

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