As we get ready for Memorial Day weekend, the first beer drinking holiday of summer, some food for thought for craft beer brewers and drinkers.
On Tuesday, an article in The Atlantic entitled “When Is A Craft Brewery Just a Brewery?” asked some interesting questions. The one that piqued my interest was about big brewers cashing in on the craft beer “movement” and its continued growth.
“According to AC Golden, Colorado Native Lager was in 600 stores just six weeks after its release, placed alongside Avery, Great Divide, and other Colorado microbrews. Nothing on the label identifies it as a MillerCoors product. As long as 10 percent growth is the rule, there might be room for corporate pretenders. But that growth will top off at some point, and craft brewers will suddenly find themselves struggling for shelf space, even in their own niche market, with the mega-brewers. True small-timers may have a superior product, but are they ready for this fight?”
In today’s Beer Business Daily, Harry Schumacher asks: “will retailers get into private label craft?”
In case you’re thinking – so what? He goes on to say:
Since my film was released last year, there’s been some criticism that the points I made are “dated.” After all, craft beer is more available than it was 5 or 10 years ago. Indeed it is in states where liquor stores dominate but the reality is that craft beers from small, independent brewers are still hard to find in chain supermarkets where the big brewers continue to dominate. The entry of giant retailers into the private label craft business is another indication that this war is only going to heat up. Corporate America is not going to sit by and allow its market share to erode.
But in the end, it’s all up to the consumer. The sad reality is that most Americans don’t care who makes what they buy. They shop based on price and advertising. In order for this craft beer movement to continue to flourish, independent craft brewers will have to find new ways to ensure that those consumers who seek them out can find their beers where they shop.