The Brewers Association (BA) recently revealed export growth data for the American craft beer industry that showed shipments to the Asia Pacific region grow by 38.1% year-on-year in 2014, headed by South Korea.
According to the Brewers Association, South Korea was one of the fastest growing markets for American craft beer in 2014, supplanting Japan for the first time as one of the five top markets for American craft beer shipments with 3.4 percent total market share. Thailand was another fastest growing market in the Asia Pacific region. Brazil – at 64% – saw the quickest growth in the world overall.
Other top export markets are Canada (53% total market share), Sweden (12%), the United Kingdom (10.7%), and Australia (3.4%), contributing to a total of 383,422 barrels – at an estimated value of US$99.7 million – that American craft breweries exported outside of the United States in 2014. and representing a growth of 35.7% over the previous year.
“Small and independent brewers are spreading the culture and community of craft beer around the globe,” said Bob Pease, chief executive officer of the Brewers Association. “Beer drinkers internationally are embracing the innovation and flavors offered by American craft brewers.”
Singapore continues to see encouraging growth
Singapore-based importers of US craft beers have also witnessed encouraging growth numbers for the country, despite trailing behind other markets in the Asia Pacific region. “It’s growing fast but (we’re) maybe still behind more mature Asian markets like Japan, South Korea and Australia,” shared Roland Utama, director of The Drinkery that brings in US craft beer brands such as Modern Times and Lost Coast, as well as Knee Deep and Green Flash. The importer is already looking at adding a few more American craft beer brands to its portfolio in the next three to six months, with the first shipment of beers from Ballast Point Brewing Company landing in the coming six to eight weeks.
“Consumers (in Singapore) are yearning for something different, especially among the younger generation who are more well-informed and well-travelled,” said Utama. “More awareness about the benefits and quality difference of craft beer versus mass-market beer – media coverage definitely helps a lot. And (we are seeing) increasing number of people who are passionate about craft beer helping to spread the word,” he added.
But fellow The Drinkery director Rick Magaritov cautioned that their numbers come off a very low base, as their import company only received its first craft beer shipment in Singapore on July 2014. “I will say this though, our business is growing very quickly – we’ve made necessary capital investments to ensure our supply chain is completely refrigerated from brewery to table,” Magaritov says. “We are certainly feeling the growth numbers as we can’t keep beer in stock – and as we add more breweries, we still can’t keep beer in stock,” he adds.
Singapore’s largest importer of US craft beers, Beerstyle Distribution, revealed that it experienced an estimated 33% growth in US craft beer imports in 2014, largely attributed to the introduction of one-way draught beer kegs to its previously all-bottle shipments. Beerstyle Distribution owner Winston Kwang says that Singapore registered slower growth because craft beer was introduced to the country a few years earlier compared to other Asia Pacific markets. “It depends on which region we’re being compared to – Singapore starts from a higher base compared to Thailand so the increase looks less,” explains Kwang.
Kwang credits education and openness for the acceptance of US craft beer in Singapore, and seconds The Drinkery’s Utama on the growing preference for craft beer among younger drinkers in the country. “People are starting to learn about craft beers through constant exposure. (Younger consumers) are willing to try them, unlike most older consumers who would rather stick to what they know best,” Kwang says, who adds that increasingly American breweries are looking towards other markets due to increased competition at home for tap lines and shelf space.
“Coming to Asia now rather than later would yield more branding opportunities and sales volume (for them),” observes Kwang, who has been on the lookout for a brewery on America’s East Coast to add to his portfolio.
Top US breweries of 2014
The Brewers Association has also recently released its lists of top 50 craft and overall US breweries in 2014 based on beer sales volume.
“The companies on this list include the vanguard of the craft industry,” said Bart Watson, chief economist for the Brewers Association. “They are exposing new beer lovers to craft, opening new markets and creating opportunities for the entire category. As they continue to grow, so will the availability of innovative and high-quality beer produced for all to enjoy.”
Breweries on the top 50 craft breweries list represented by Singapore-based importers and distributors are as follows:
– Deschutes Brewery (No.7), Stone Brewing Co (No.9), Victory Brewing Co (No. 29), Rogue Ales (No. 32), Ninkasi Brewing Co (No. 36)
Beer Importers & Distributors (BID)
– Abita Brewing Co (No. 21)
– Lost Coast Brewery (No. 43), Green Flash Brewing Co (No. 48)