American craft beer is experiencing an explosive growth in popularity, both domestically and overseas. Last year, the United States exported $100 million worth of beer, an increase of 35.7% from the previous year. Canada is the biggest consumer of American craft beer exports, at 53%, followed by Sweden at 12%, and the United Kingdom as a close third at 10%. Demand in Brazil went up by 64% and approximately 38% in the Asian-Pacific market last year.
The foreign interest in American craft beer is due to the innovation and flavors offered by American craft brewers. Unlike other countries, the craft beer scene in America is not restricted by traditional guidelines for beer-making, which allows the freedom to experiment with production techniques and flavors. Within the next year, we will see more new, exciting flavors from craft breweries and the rise in popularity of the beer cocktail. The similarities between the craft beer and wine industries are growing everyday, with regional differences and specific varieties.
The demand for American craft beer is gaining the attention of some of the big global drink groups and they want to get in on the action. To keep up with these changes, big breweries like Anheuser-Busch (AHBIF) are snapping up the rising stars of the beer market so that, they too, can have the competitive edge that craft beers provide.
But not everyone is embracing the craft beer scene — some of alcoholic beverage companies have no interest in getting in on the action. “People expect one of the big guys to get in and roll up the craft business,” Rob Sands, chief executive of beer and wine distributor Constellation Brands (STZ) said in an interview recently. “But it’s not clear that’s a good strategy.”
Craft beers only make up a small percentage of the $100 billion beer market and few have been successful outside of their local markets. This just adds to the belief that it’s a very local business that may not be marketable outside of their own locales.