Beer Shipments Down in 2011 – Yuengling New No. 1 American Brewer

By Jim Cohen | January 18, 2012 | 0 Comments |
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The US beer industry, as a whole, saw another decline in 2011. In fact, according to Beer Marketer’s Insights worldwide shipments were down 2.9 million barrels, or 1.4% compared to 2010. Driven by a tough economy and consumers continuing to switch to wine and spirits, beer has had a tough year. However, it wasn’t all bad for every brewery – Yuengling, with a massive growth spurt, is now the number one American brewery.

Anheuser-Busch saw shipments slip 2.9 million barrels or 2.9%, for a total of 98.8 million. This is the first time in a decade that the brewery saw shipments fall below 100 million barrels. The slippage also caused them to give up Budweiser’s ranking as the number two position to Coors Light. In 2012, the brand will continue to innovate their product line-up and market new brands such as Bud Light Platinum (scheduled to launch a marketing campaign at the Super Bowl).

MillerCoors, even with a growth in their flagship brand of Coors Light, has issues. Miller Lite continues to face challenges and see decreasing volumes. Overall, MillerCoors’ shipments fell ~3% to less than 60 million barrels.  

Even though it’s not great news, the two breweries still control the majority of the market. Anheuser-Busch owns ~47% and MillerCoors owns ~28.4%. Overall market share has declined as craft breweries continue to expand their presence. Currently, there are 1900 breweries in America and over 900 more in production, according to Beer Marketer’s Insights.

It’s not all bad news for breweries around the country. Pabst Brewing Company, which was purchased in 2010 and recently moved its headquarters to LA, saw an increase of 0.4%. This was the first increase the brewery had seen since 1999 (thank you hipsters).

Since Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors are both foreign owned companies, Pottsville, Pa.-based D.G. Yuengling & Son claimed the title for the number one American brewery. With its latest expansion into Ohio, the brewery saw better growth than anticipated – approximately 16.9% – and surpassed Boston Beer Company in total volume (2.5 million barrels). Boston Beer Company is only about 100,000 barrels behind with 2.4 million barrels, and the brewery still enjoyed impressive growth at ~8%.

This is relatively impressive since Yuengling is still a “regional” brewery, distributing in 14 states and Washington D.C. “By default we’ve slowly climbed our way to the top after 183 years,” D.G. Yuengling & Son’s chief financial officer David Casinelli told Even though they are the number one brewery in America, the company only claimed a 1% market share.

The overall beer industry has taken a beating over the past several years with volumes steadily declining. However, according to research group Technomic Inc, the industry can expect growth of ~2.2% in 2012. This is mainly driven by the increase in acceptance and popularity of craft beer. Still, this doesn’t compare with the consistent growth of ~3% that wine and spirits have had and are expected to have in 2012.

Your Choice. Your Beer. Drink Up.
- Beer Universe

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