Craft breweries in B.C. taking bigger market share

Revellers in B.C. are increasingly celebrating with local libations from the province’s craft breweries.

Revellers in B.C. are increasingly celebrating with local libations from the province’s craft breweries.

According to the BC Liquor Distribution Branch, sales of products from microbreweries have seen double-digit percentage growth for three of the past four quarters.

In the third quarter ending September 30, 2012, sales for beer from breweries with annual production of less than 160,000 hectolitres rose 19.4% for draft beer and 13.3% for packaged beer.

Many of the province’s craft breweries have benefitted from shifting preferences over the years. BCLDB sales for Surrey’s Central City Brewing Co., for example, jumped nearly 1,400% to $2 million for the year ending March 31 from $138,809 in 2007, according to BCLDB’s schedule of payments.

Squamish’s Howe Sound Brewing sales jumped 836% to $1.5 million from $161,440 in 2007. Victoria’s Phillips Brewing has seen BCLDB sales jump nearly 450% to $8.8 million from $1.6 million in 2007.

Overall, sales for nearly a dozen B.C. microbreweries have more than doubled over the past five years since BIV started to compile its list of biggest breweries in B.C.

The consumer shifts have had an impact on larger breweries. According to the BCLDB, beer sales from big breweries fell 3.4% for draft beer and only inched up 1.3% for packaged beer in 2012’s third quarter, extending relatively flat sales growth for the past four quarters.

While big-brewer sales might have been dented by shifting preferences, imported beers have suffered the most significant declines. Last year’s BCLDB annual report noted imported beer sales fell 6.4%, with the total number of litres of imported beer falling 11.3% for the year ending March 31, 2012.

The declines have generally continued throughout 2012, with significant declines for beers imported from the U.S. Overall, imported beer sales have dropped for three consecutive 12-month periods ending September 2012 to $216.2 million from a high of $234.6 million in 2010.  •

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