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Belgium Passed Canada As #3 Source of Imports Thru Jul

Man, times have changed. Back in their mid-90s heyday, Canada was #1 beer importing country, Canadian beers were 30% of total imports and 3.2 mil bbls (Molson Ice’s brief surge). Last yr, Canadian imports were down to 2 mil bbls and just 7 share of imports, compared to Belgian imports at 1.5 mil bbls. This yr, Canadian imports down another near 200,000 bbls, 15% thru Jul, according to detailed data released by Beer Inst. Meanwhile, Belgian imports up 285,000 bbls, 33.6% for 7 mos. Belgian imports are about 50,000 bbls ahead of Canadian imports yr-to-date.


CAP Recap: Balance (Mostly); Three-Tier Support (Totally); Pot Skepticism

Annual symposium coordinated by NBWA-Center for Alcohol Policy once again featured wide-ranging discussion of topical alc bev issues. Lighter on legal this year, but very much on point with provocative pot discussion, review of challenges to 3-tier system (see Sep 4 Express) and different perspectives on familiar NBWA themes of need to balance biz interests with regulatory and public health concerns. Supplier perspective was scant on program, per usual (tho brewers invited to participate). There remains overhang of criticism that NBWA includes some of industry’s harshest critics – Alcohol Justice and advocate Michele Simon spoke again – but CAP explicitly seeks broad perspective to find common ground. And it received praise for inclusive efforts to bring together such an “eclectic” group as Mississippi Atty Gen and head of natl assn of AGs Jim Hood called it. Hood actually spoke little about alc bev issues, indicating they’re not top o’ mind for him or colleagues right now. Indeed, he talked more about issues of privacy and cybercrime and his “Presidential Initiative” at AGs assn will be around technology, intellectual property theft, etc. Hood also said he enjoyed working with industry members on prevention efforts and praised process of reaching compromises to avoid litigation.

Other issues covered by CAP included 1st Amendment and alc bev regulation, a deep dive into specific retail programs to prevent underage sales (wholesale tier got tip of the cap as key partner from retail expert), a case review, and more. A round up from state regulators piggy-backed on theme of 3-tier challenges with counsel to Illinois Liquor Control Comm detailing ways new biz models threaten to “marginalize” 3-tier system. Pot discussion shaded toward the negative and emphasized there’s still a lot of unknowns around use, potential harm, proper regulation, etc. More CAP details in our sister pubs beer marketer’s INSIGHTS and Alcohol Issues INSIGHTS.


Zeroing In At Home with Three Numbers: Grand Teton’s 208 Ale a Runaway

Brewers have leaned into area codes when bolstering local support for their brands, but that push seems to be generating a lot of pull too. Goose Island’s 312 series has expanded well beyond the Chicago area code’s limits, but plenty of smaller examples have recentered sales closer to home. We’ve written about Firestone Walker’s success with 805 boosting the brewery’s overall trends north of +50% this yr. In Ida, Grand Teton Brewing’s 208 Ale, released for the first time last yr, has helped its home state sales trend jump up to +70%, according to an Idaho Statesman report. It’s pulled back from a much-broader distribution territory of 24 states over the last few years to 14 currently, after new ownership took over in 2009. Sales in Ida, Wyo and Mont make up about half of total sales, but success of low-alc, all-Ida ingredient 208 Ale could shift that. It’s the #3 draft brand for Grand Teton’s southeast Ida distrib, “behind only Budweiser and Bud Light,” per the Statesman.

Grand Teton expects to produce around 10K bbls again in 2014, about the same as it’s been for the last few, but local sales and focusing on finding cost efficiencies “should allow it to be profitable for the first time,” the paper wrote. “It is tough now,” the co’s COO Rob Mullin told the paper, “it’s harder to make headway with all these new breweries out there. We’re kind of sitting tight, really focusing on the cost side, working hard to keep our quality getting better all the time,” while looking for organic growth to get it to 20K bbls. Meanwhile, less than 5-yr old Payette Brewing looks to jump from just over 5000 bbls last yr to between 9 and 10K bbls in 2014 and Sockeye Brewing of Boise is headed from about 5000 bbls to 7500 bbls after expanding from brewpub sales with a production facility opened in 2012.