Chapter 1

U.S. Beer Industry

(book excerpts)

Beer the largest alcohol segment nationwide, accounting for roughly 85% of all alcohol volume sold in the United States and annually generating over $91.6 billion in retail sales. The industry has continued to grow and increase its profitability despite economic and flat consumption trends. The beer market is the most concentrated of the three alcohol sectors with three brewers-Anheuser-Busch, South African Breweries' Miller (SAB-Miller), and Molson Coors Brewing Company-accounting for about 79% all beer sales. Expanded market share, price increases and improved production efficiencies are the keys to improving operating margins for large national brewers in the U.S. beer market. Although there are still some traditional regional brewers that continue to operate, they continue to decline in numbers, often closing or being sold to a larger national brewer. After going through several decades of brewery consolidation, a number of pioneering brewers in the 1980s started producing traditional more full-flavored "craft" beers using only traditional ingredients and brewing practices.

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