Many of the people I have spoken to, that take their beer seriously, are quick to distance themselves from multi-national brewing conglomerates such as MillerCoors and Annheuser Busch, instead electing to support smaller brewers making quality beer. It’s not hard to understand the motivation. Small brewers pour their hearts and souls into making great products, and they help to build their communities in the process. But at the end of the day, the beer industry is just that, an industry, and profits are key to success. With that in mind, I took a look at some of the beer related business news that has popped up in recent times.
Can’t Blame Millennials This Time
Time and time again, we hear about millennials killing industry after industry. As a millennial trying to make my way through an age of stagnant wages that lag behind inflation and rising costs of living, this drives me insane. But fear not, an article posted by The Motley Fool says, for once, millennials don’t have to take the blame on this one.
The article suggests that, while millennials are moving away from brewing giants such as AB InBev and MillerCoors, they are actually keeping a pretty good pace on craft brew. It explains that craft breweries continue to see explosive growth, with more than 5,300 breweries open in the US at the end of 2016, compared to just 150 in 1987.
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The largest demographic turning away from beer, according to The Motley Fool, is the 35-44 year old segment. It seems generation X are really at fault this time, although their drop has only been for a few quarters.
Another interesting point raised in this article is what constitutes a craft brewery. Yet again, the major point of contention is Boston Brewing Company, of Samuel Adams fame. While they definitely started as a craft brewery many moons ago, their production yield is gigantic. With that in mind, are they still a craft brewery? What, in your opinion, defines a craft brewery? Let me know in the comments below!
It seems that our good friends on the southern end of the Korean Peninsula have developed quite a taste for craft brew. This rapidly growing interest in craft beer made a significant contribution to the importing of more than £10b ($12.8b USD) of British goods in the first half of 2017. An impressive 420% year-over-year growth saw South Korea import £59.3m ($76m USD) of British food and drink.
Opinion: No More Talking S#!t In Pubs?
The article reports that brands such as Brewdog are increasingly popular with the youth of Korea. This may be reaching, but it sure seems that craft brew is increasingly in popularity world wide. Maybe that’s why corporations like AB InBev feel the need to make ludicrous statements such as this one.
Also, while we’re on the topic of Brewdog, at what point do we stop considering them craft beer? They been engaged in a rapid and aggressive expansion, building a footprint in several countries on at least three continents now. They also recently ran a crowd-funding initiative to help get their first US-based brewery off the ground. Again, comment below and let me know.
Bleak Signs In Japan
You may have seen news lately that large shifts in Japanese culture, particularly those in the youth, are causing big issues for the pacific giant. More and more young Japanese are foregoing traditional relationships, leaving Japan in a sticky situation with a world-leading life expectancy causing an unprecedented percentage of retirees putting unrealistic demand on government resources.
It would seem that the increasingly individualized identity of the Japanese youth is also wreaking havoc on beer sales. Whereas the Baby Boomer generation of Japan saw it as obligatory to get a “leaving beer” with their bosses, it seems millennials just aren’t carrying the proverbial torch. This departure from tradition has seen sales figures plummet, dropping 7% between 2010 and 2015. And experts are expecting more of the same in the near future.
As US conglomerates gobble up craft brews to maintain market share, Sapporo has recently followed suit. Earlier this month they acquired California based Anchor Brewing for approximately $85m USD. With an major beer brands no longer to assume the stability they once enjoyed, it seems likely that this trend will continue in the short term future.
Bringing Things Back to the US
Anyone who has watched US news this week should be well aware of the tragic situation in Charlottesville, VA. Regardless of your political persuasion, I imagine you would find it hard to vindicate such violent clashes resulting in the death and injury of many. Politics aside, it would seem this situation has spilled over to influence the beer industry.
After the rally, it became public knowledge that the co-owner of a Kalamazoo, MI, drinking establishment was a Nazi sympathizer. Public outrage followed the discovery of Semitic rhetoric on Craft Draft 2 Go’s co-owner Aaron VanArsdale’s Facebook profile. The profile also included images of Mr. VanArsdale displaying the Nazi salute with a swastika photoshopped on his head.
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Michigan’s beer community became very vocal on social media platforms such as Facebook and Yelp, urging others to boycott the establishment. A Michigan brewer, who asked to remain anonymous, reported to Forbes that his company had severed ties with VanArsdale due to the “casual racism” evident on his Facebook profile.
At the time of publishing, it is not evident whether the bar has been closed. I guess this just goes to show you that accountability in beer is increasingly important. Patrons continue to show that they do not want to do business with those who are not interested in doing the right thing business wise. Based on this situation, it would also seem that they will not separate owners’ profiles from company perception. Brewers and publicans beware.
So There You Have It
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