Global hop marketA local alternative to mass beer suggested by independent brewers has been successful and is now altering the global market. Beer is becoming more diversified, so transnational companies have to accept the new game rules and to switch focus to young and fast growing markets. All these processes increased the demand for aroma and bitter hop as well as their acreage expansion on two continents. However now there appeared a downward trend of alcohol consumption in the world, so even special sorts can soon turn to be sufficient. In this connection the dynamic American hop market is already facing some problems. EU hop producers have become more cautious, they are not racing to exceed the demand and look forward with more confidence, judging by the contract terms.
Hop Market in RussiaGermany still dominates the Russian market, yet over the recent two years one has been able observe a continuous success of Czech hop suppliers. Their expansion and growing popularity of hops from the United States became the drivers of supplies growth in 2016 despite the preceding modest harvest crop in the EU, as well as the factor of relative stability in 2017. In this connection, in 2017, the ratio of the varieties continued to shift towards the aroma ones, and the supplies of Magnum hop and other alpha varieties were reduced. However, the import of bitter hop pellets is partially replaced by extracts, especially from the major beer manufacturers. Total volumes of alpha acid supplies, according to our estimation, decreased by approximately 5% and returned to the level of 2015. Barth Haas Group continues dominating the hop products market; HVG also increased its weight. At the same time, Morris Hanbury significantly reduced the supplies in 2017.
10+1 trends of Russian beer market 2015-2017Despite of the moderately negative prognoses for 2017, the beer market can be stabilized soon. Yet the years of the negative dynamics have resulted in marketing being limited just to “optimization” and the art of balancing between price and volumes. Bigger supermarkets share means stronger trade marketing. These processes are connected to the majority of the described trends. At the same time, the federal brands inflation leads to searching for new tastes, sales channels and contact formats that expand the product range and diversify the beer market, but do not imply a substantial volume increase. Let us enumerate and further discuss the ten trends of the beer market we can see in 2015-2017 as well as the major event of 2017.
Beer market of Ukraine 2017In the first half of 2017, the Ukrainian beer market goes on decreasing slowly. Yet, the companies manage to compensate their lost volumes by raising prices and improving the sales structures. This results in the mid price market segment reduction while the sales of premium brands are rising. These processes are connected to position strengthening of companies Carlsberg Group and Oasis and the market share reduction of Obolon. Most of the novelties by the market leaders belong to craft or hard lemon categories.
Beer market of Russia 2016: PET goes to draftThe beer market of Russia was warmed up by the hot summer, but the preparation for large volume PET prohibition has already impacted it negatively. The year was successful for Efes, MBC and regional producers; Carlsberg’s positions were virtually stable but AB InBev and Heineken lost a part of market share having focused on the sales profitability. The dynamics of big brands was determined by how much the companies were willing to keep the prices down or by their promotional activity. In this context the economy segment of the beer market and sales of inexpensive draft beer were increasing. The premium segment started shrinking due to license brands migrating to the mainstream segment.
US. Craft Fights Back vs. the Foreign Beer Giants
Since 2001, craft beer has grown at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7.9 percent, whereas imports have grown at an annual rate of 1.3 percent. and domestics have declined at a rate of .7 percent. Craft has even accelerated in the last five years to an annual rate of 10.1 percent while both domestics and imports have slowed [see Exhibit 1].
|5 Yr CAGR||-1.1%||-3.2%||10.1%|
|10 Yr CAGR||-0.7%||1.3%||7.9%|
|Market Share ‘01||86.5%||10.8%||2.6%|
|Market Share ‘11||80.7%||13.7%||5.7%|
Sources: Beer Institute, Brewers Almanac
The Power of the Millennials
Many industry analysts project that these trends will continue for some time. I believe that the craft category will grow to roughly 25 million barrels by 2020. Craft drinking Millennials outnumber their older Gen X counterparts two to one.1
According to a March issue of Time Magazine, approximately 10,000 Millennials turn 21 every day in America. If the consumption of craft beer remains flat per drinker, the increase in the craft drinking population alone will grow craft to 18 million barrels by 2020; with 2.5 million of the 6 million incremental barrels coming from Millennials.
Craft’s share of Millennials total beer consumption, however, has increased over the years. Last year, for example, 33 percent of Millennials drank more craft than in the previous year as well as 18 percent of those belonging to other generations.2
If consumption of craft amongst all generations continues to increase at modest rates (4 percent per annum), the category will grow to 25 million barrels by 2020. I feel this is the more realistic projection [see Exhibit 2].
Pressures from Big Beer
However, in spite of the groundswell of consumer interest in craft beer, there are powerful forces working against the interests of most breweries that make up the category. These forces are primarily the big foreign-owned corporate breweries that see craft as encroaching on their interests with distributors, retailers and consumers.
The duopoly players (ABI and SAB/Miller) who control 77 percent of the U.S. beer market are working to beat down competition from craft brands. In pursuit of this objective they do four things:
- Pressure the independent distributor tier to focus on their own products to the exclusion of others (e.g., ABI’s 100 percent share of mind and anchor distributor programs).
- Create faux craft brands (e.g., Blue Moon and Shock Top).
- Buy and assimilate craft brands and exert strong pressure on craft at retail—sometimes through their positions as category captains. At the retail tier, for example, they assert to chain buyers that there are too many craft SKUs and that craft is over-spaced.
- They have asserted that many crafts should be placed on the warm shelf along with wine and merchandised by style rather than by brand.3
The Brewers Association (BA) Market Development Committee,which is represented by eleven craft brewers, has taken a deep interest in fighting the assertions that craft is over-spaced in the chains and has, therefore, commissioned this article.
Craft is Under-Spaced
The punch line of the following paragraphs is that craft is under-spaced and retailers should strongly resist moving craft brands to the warm shelf.
We reached our conclusion by analyzing all of the major chains individually in five key regions: Northern California, Southern California, Chicago Area, Northwest and the Northeast. For each chain we looked at all the segments (craft, premium, super premium, sub-premium, imports, PAB and cider) and measured the physical space allocated to them in each of their account classifications (e.g., affluent, expanded affluent, ethnic, mainstream).
We then juxtaposed the allocated space with the gross profit (GP)4, incremental GP (meaning the change in GP vs. a year ago) and expected incremental GP in 20165 generated by each of these segments.
Within each chain, we weighted this data by their own account classifications and then rolled this all up to the regional level by weighting each chain according to their relative volume. The major chains in these regions represent between 42 -78 percent of off-trade beer volume of their respective regions.
Share of Space Vs. Gross Profit
The data in Exhibit 3 shows that in terms of share of space vs. current share of gross profit, craft is under-spaced in Northern California, the Northwest and the Chicago Area, and is appropriately spaced in the Northeast. It is over-spaced based on this metric in Southern California. In terms of domestic beer, super premiums are over-spaced in three of five regions and premiums are slightly under-spaced in three of five regions.6
Share of GP vs. share of space, however, is often not the right metric for retailers to use when making space decisions, especially when the craft category is growing so rapidly. While craft is over-spaced in Southern California according to that metric, if we compare the amount of incremental GP it generates, it is actually under-spaced there, too. In terms of incremental GP, craft performs far better than all other segments.
On this dimension, craft is the most powerful category adding over 60 percent of the incremental GP in three of the five markets. This performance by craft far outstrips all the other segments. Conversely, on this measure imports are weak and premiums are very weak—actually generating significantly less GP for retailers in 2012 than in 2011.
In Chicago, for example, if we look at the change in retailer GP by adding the declining and the growing segments together, premiums contribute a whopping negative 93 percent of the change in GP! No doubt, this is a difficult concept to get your mind around. Simply put, it’s BAD; they are reducing GP for the retailers! [See Exhibit 4].
It is important to note that in any market where craft is in its early stages of development, its share of space will always exceed its share of GP. This is because there can be no growth without it first being on the shelf. As craft grows, its share of GP will match, then exceed, its share of space. Following this logic, look in Exhibit 3 at the amount of GP that craft will generate in 2016 assuming the segments continue to grow at their current pace. The ratio of craft’s share of GP to its share of space in 2016 is far better than any other segment [see Exhibit 5].
Quantities and Organization
While this post demonstrates that craft is under-spaced in off-premise chains, what about the number of craft SKUs that should occupy the shelf space allocated to craft? Secondly, how should the sets be merchandised?
The first of these questions is difficult and I’ll not attempt to answer here. I will say that this will vary according to the strategy of the particular chain. Regarding the second question, I share the position of the BA Market Development Committee, which was that expressed by Jessica Jones of Ninkasi Brewery in the last BA Insider. She laid out a compelling case that chain sets should be organized by brand versus by style for various reasons, including that it reduces confusion for shoppers and is far more attractive to them. Consumers come to trust certain brands and don’t want to hunt for them while shopping for a particular style.
Cooler Vs. Warm Shelf
Finally, contrary to the stance being pushed by the large corporate beer companies, retailers should avoid moving crafts from the cooler to the warm shelf. In contrast to mass-produced, domestic lagers, craft beers tend to contain more high-quality and expensive ingredients (e.g., aroma hops and two row barley) and are largely not pasteurized. Given this, their flavor deteriorates faster at warm temperatures than those of pasteurized macro-lagers (see Exhibit 6).
Retailers should consider dedicating more refrigerated space for craft brands so their customers have every opportunity to enjoy the flavor quality of American craft beer. Do the chains really need to merchandise all the myriad of package and container sizes of the same domestic lagers in the cold box? Surely not! If anything they should be moved to the warm shelf.
In summary, while the future should be very bright for craft beer in the U.S. given changing consumer preferences, the powerful duopoly is working hard to undermine this movement. While they are applying pressure on many fronts, their assertions that craft is over spaced in the chains are plainly wrong. Craft is under-spaced!
Photo © Todd Dwyer via Flickr CC
1. Mintel Group, Craft Beer Report US, November 2012
2. Mintel, 2012
3. ABI’s Nov 2012 Sales and Marketing Communications meeting in Chicago; and various discussions with chain buyers and distributors
4. Calculated assuming GP margins: craft=28%; imports=25%; premium=18%; super premium 25%; sub-premium=20%; PAB/cider=28%
5. To get 2016 GP we assume that the segments continue trending at their current rates
6. Nor Cal: 4 chains = 78% beer 77% craft; So Cal: 4 chains = 62% b/81%c; Chicago: 4 chains = 69%b/76%c; Northeast: 6 chains = 42%b/43%c; Northwest: 4 chains = 73%b/71%c
Prior to the four years he has been at Lagunitas Brewing Co, Todd Stevenson held various senior roles in marketing, strategy and general management in his 14 years at Diageo in the U.S., Japan and South Africa. In addition, Todd ran the global marketing for Nokia's Lifestyle Division, based in London. He holds an MBA from Dartmouth and a BA from Tufts University.
8 Jan. 2013