Beer Institute Reports on 2017 Packaging Trends

The Beer Institute — based in Washington, D.C. while representing the $350-billion beer industry — recently released their 2017 State Packaging Report. This study looks, state-by-state, into the trends of how brews were delivered to consumers last year.

Among the interesting findings was that, among non-draft, the greatest gainers were in the 16-oz. format and above.

“Some of this growth is coming from premium and economy brands in places like convenience stores and some is coming from growth in craft brands in four packs and ‘crowlers’ (32oz. cans, often sold at taprooms and brewpubs),” writes Michael Uhrich, Beer Institute chief economist, in a blog post announcing the findings.

Aluminum cans represent about 55% of beers shipped  by package type, with glass bottles around 33% — which are both in line with recent years. How that will hold up moving forward with President Trump’s imposed tariffs on aluminum imports remains to be seen.

On-premise, draft beers represented 61.7% of all sales in 2017, which Uhrich said was the highest percentage ever recorded by the Beer Institute. “Although its growth is visible in all areas of on-premise, own-premise outlets, including taprooms and brewpubs, are driving much of the growth,” he wrote.

Half-barrel kegs once again trended downwards by 1.5 points of draft share, the same they slipped in 2016. Gaining in their decline were 50-liter “Euro” kegs, quarter-barrel kegs, and sixth-barrel kegs.

“It bears mentioning that this shift towards smaller kegs implies dramatic logistical considerations that affect all three tiers,” Uhrich wrote. “During 2017, the beer industry washed, filled, shipped, emptied, and returned about 250,000 fewer half barrel kegs than it had during 2016. That is a large drop in the number of half barrel kegs handled, but those half barrels’ share moved to more than 1.5 million additional 50 liter, quarter barrel, and sixth barrel kegs (not to mention firkins, which, while growing quickly, are still too small to break out separately). On net, brewers, importers, distributors, and retailers handled more than 1.25 million more kegs in 2017 than in 2016.”

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