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Very Soft Q4 Shipments Continue; Nov No Better For Taxpaids Than Oct, -3.2%

Don’t like to be negative so close to Christmas, but Season sure ain’t bright shipments-wise. Taxpaid domestic shipments down 400,000 bbls, 3.2% in Nov, estimates Michael Uhrich at Beer Inst, despite easy comp (-4.2% last yr) and one extra day. Nov drop followed near-3% decline in Oct. Recall too, Oct imports flat. So known Q4 beer shipments -770,000 bbls, -2.6% so far. And yr-to-date US beer shipments -1.4 mil bbls, 0.8%. Early-yr cider gain offsets a bit of that, and exports very strong thru Oct, boosting total shipments figure. But flat or up a tiny bit in US lookin’ less and less likely, especially as MC announced it will reduce late-yr inventories.


AB Enhances Position as Major Player in Colo; Across All 3 Tiers

With acquisition of Breckenridge and 2 additional branches earlier this yr, AB got bigger in Colo across all 3 tiers even as state migrates more and more to craft. AB lost 8 share in Colo between 2007 and 2014. It fell under 35 share in 2014. AB biz declined 263,000 bbls, 17% in Colo same period. But with moves this yr, it’s building its biz again in craft-crazy state. And AB spending big bucks to do so, while once again notably expanding its presence in retail tier.

With addition of Breckenridge, Colo’s 5th largest craft brewer, AB will add almost a share point of biz in Colo. And this time in growing craft biz to boot. Turns out Breckenridge does about 45% of its biz in home state Colo, mktg and sales director George O’Neill told INSIGHTS yesterday. That’s a little more than 30,000 bbls in state of 3.7 mil bbls. Plus Breck up about 10% in home state Colo in 2015.

AB already a major corporate citizen in Colo as it already owned brewery in Fort Collins and Denver branch. But with acquisitions of Standard and American Eagle distribs earlier this yr, AB also owns over 75% of its distribution in Colo. That’s so even after agreeing to sell off a couple of mil cases to Steven Busch’s Krey Dist. AB’s Denver branch alone around 9 mil cases, sez source. That’s over half of 17.7 mil cases AB sold in Colo in 2014.

AB Will Own 15 Retailers in US What’s more, AB picks up 2 more retailers in Breckenridge deal, in addition to the 4 more it will pick up in Four Peaks deal. AB will get original brewpub in Breckenridge and restaurant on its new campus in Littleton. And don’t forget, AB will add 10 Barrel brewpub in Denver next yr as well. So AB will own 2 breweries, 3 restaurants and 3 distribs in Colo.

Earlier this yr, AB acquired 3 West Coast craft brewers with 9 retail licenses in 4 states. Total it up and AB is becoming a significant retailer too, with 15 locations or more. Though these retailers represent a blip on the screen as a % of AB’s total biz, they do represent a further blurring of the lines between tiers. It’s also back to the future a bit for AB, which had pretty significant retail presence in some mkts at Busch Gardens and Sea World back in the day. Is this just for branding and sampling purposes, as AB says, or yet another AB disruption strategy? Both?