The U.S. craft brewing industry grew 4 percent last year and increased its share of the overall beer market to 13.2 percent, the Brewers Association announced.
The growth was down slightly from the 5 percent the previous year, while the market share climbed from 12.7 percent.
The Boulder, Colo.-based association said Tuesday that U.S. craft brewers produced 25.9 million barrels, with a retail dollar value estimated at $27.6 billion. The dollar value represents a 24.1 percent market share and 7 percent growth over the previous year, the group said.
The Brewers Association noted that the growth last year for small and independent brewers occurred at the same time that production for the overall beer market fell 1 percent.
“Craft maintained a fairly stable growth rate in 2018 and continued to gain share in the beer market,” association chief economist Bart Watson said in a prepared statement. “Small and independent brewers continue to serve as job creators, strong economic contributors, and community beacons.”
Overall, there were 4,521 microbreweries, 2,594 brewpubs, and 231 regional craft breweries operating last year for a total of 7,346. The association noted that 1,049 breweries opened while 219 closed.
“The beer landscape is facing new realities with category competition, societal shifts, and other variables in play," Watson said. "There are still pockets of opportunity both in terms of geography and business model, but brewers need to be vigilant about quality, differentiation, and customer service."