The Brewers Association reported Tuesday that the American craft beer industry set a new record for exports last year. Craft beer exports increased 72 percent compared with the previous year, with a value estimated at $49.1 million, according to the Boulder, Colo.-based trade group. (See graphic at the bottom.)
Fred Karm, brewer and owner of Hoppin' Frog Brewery in Akron, said he isn't surprised by the growth because other countries are still learning about U.S. craft beer.
Hoppin' Frog -- rated by Ratebeer.com as the 17th best brewery in the world -- started exporting in 2008 and has collaborated with several European breweries to produce special brews. Karm's beers are now available in 12 countries and foreign sales make up 10 percent of his business. He expects that to grow.
"I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t," he said, speaking about the European market. "They send more and more beer over here. It’s only natural that we send more beer over there. It’s turning into an international market."
Canada was the industry's largest export market, with shipments increasing 140 percent by volume (up to 68,180 barrels). Sweden and the United Kingdom were the next two largest markets, although exports decreased in both countries. Western Europe accounted for 56,204 barrels valued at $14.6 million last year, a 5.6 percent increase over the previous year.
Shipments to Japan climbed 57 percent and American breweries made strong gains in Australia, China, Hong Kong and emerging markets such as Thailand, Japan, Australia and China are now the industry’s fourth, fifth and sixth largest export markets, respectively, the association said.
"The BA is very pleased with the continued growth in exports of American craft beer to markets around the world," association Chief Operating Officer Bob Pease said in a prepared statement. "Consumers continue to view American craft brewers as leaders in innovation and among the standard bearers for quality. Maintaining that perception is a priority for the craft brewing community.”
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