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US beer statistics, part 2

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Let's start this time with Domestic vs. Import. For 1980, the first year in the chart, domestic production had a 97 percent share, while imports were only 3 percent. By the year 2000, imports had reached 10 percent. Over that 20 year period, imports declined five times, however no less than ten times, they had either close to 10 percent or over 10 percent growth between two years.

By 2012 (latest numbers), imports account for 13 percent and domestic for 87 percent. Of the 27 million barrels imported into the US in 2011, almost 17 million come from North America (Canada and Mexico, almost all from Mexico). The second largest import area is Europe (almost 10 million barrels), with my country providing slightly more than half of that. Belgium provides 1.4 million barrels and Germany almost 1.2 million. The fourth largest is the UK, but with only 718 hundred thousand barrels.

The US exported in 2011 a bit over 3 million barrels - a very unbalanced volume of trade. In what is almost a comedy, a bit over one million of those barrels went to.... Mexico! Most of the rest of the 3 million stayed in the Americas. Only 114 hundred thousand was sent to all of Europe, of which the UK took the largest share (39 hundred thousand) and, somewhat surprisingly to me, Switzerland took the second largest with 31 hundred thousand. My country took a bit over 8 hundred thousand barrels after sending the US well over 5 million barrels. I'm not sure which beers we got, but I'm pretty sure I know which beer you got.

Now, per capita consumption: just like in much of Europe, beer consumption in the US is declining. In 1994, it is 22,3 gallons per person and in 2011, it is down to 20,3 gallons. According to the converter on my iPhone, that is 83 liters in 1994 and 76 liters in 2011.

Interestingly, the state with the highest beer consumption per capita is New Hampshire, with almost 32 gallons per person. California, which I think has the most breweries in the US, is only 18 gallons per person.

So, it seems the US is producing more breweries, however, total production, after quite a few years of steady growth since 1980, began falling around 1990. However, imports have kept the amount of beer available in the US at fairly high levels (almost 208 million barrels in 2012). Nevertheless, the domestic share seems to be shrinking and the amount of consumption matches this fall.

It also seems to me that imports have been far more successful than "craft" beer in the US. While the exports reached a high point in 2008, US domestic production also reached a high that year. Both imports and domestic production have fallen almost every year (actually, only domestic production improved in 2012).

And on a final note, the statistics include consumption of distilled spirits as well. Once again, New Hampshire leads the country.

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  1. New Hampshire leading the country in spirits is likely a function of state liquor taxes being quite lower, with the sales ending up in adjoining states.

    Thanks for putting these together for another post, Thomas.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Tripeler

      You're quite welcome, Tripeler. Please note that New Hampshire was also the state with the highest beer consumption per capita. Can I assume that liquor laws do not apply to beer? Or is there another tax that applies to beer in the US and is lower in New Hampshire?

      1. re: ThomasvanDale

        Taxes in the US are really complicated because there are the federal taxes, which vary between wine (and even by types of wine), beer and spirits, and each state can impose its own taxes as well.

        1. re: Jim Dorsch

          Thanks, Jim. The statistics contain seven charts of taxes (Federal Excise Tax and State Excise Tax). The Federal Tax goes back to 1936 and the State Tax to 1973. I just took a quick look at "State Excise Tax Collections on Malt Beverages" and saw that New Hampshire is actually not near the bottom. Wyoming is the bottom.

    2. latest statement on exports:


      I hope I'm not repeating anything ... just got up and still groggy ...

      3 Replies
      1. re: Jim Dorsch

        And here I'm ready for dinner.

        The statistics I posted were just under 3.1 million barrels and for 2011. The figures posted by the Brewers Association are a bit over 9 percent of that figure, which is, I assume, the Association's estimate of "craft" beer in the US. Of course, there is also two years difference between the figures.

        BTW, I have always thought the Brewers Association was a marketing organisation for the American brewing industry. They say, "the not-for-profit trade group representing small and independent craft brewers" and yet they list 12 Anheuser-Busch breweries in their member list, and 9 Miller-Coors breweries.

        As far as I know none of these breweries is either small or independent.

        Nevertheless, by subtracting the amount going to Canada, it looks like about 151,000 barrels are left for the rest of the world. They also mention 44,000 barrels going to Asia-Pacific, which now brings the world down to 107 thousand barrels. Considering that Canada has a population of around 35 million and imports 132,000 barrels, while Europe with a population approximately 20 times as great, yet gets only what is left after the rest of world takes some share of 107,000 barrels, it is perhaps clearer why I said this is a weak point for the US.

        The point is not that a large population gets a small amount of export, it is that the largest and most important beer producing countries in the world seem to prefer what is produced locally. That is traditionally so in Europe and the Brewers Association may like to change that, but I don't think they will.

        1. re: ThomasvanDale

          Abuse of the terms "small" and "independent" is common in the USA. People here are raised with the mythology of this being a country founded by rugged independent bootstrap-pullers so labeling trade groups in this way reinforces that mythology.

          If they were honest and said they represented corruption on a grand scale there'd be less cover for politicians who act on their behalf.

          1. re: Josh

            People or organisations that lie or fail to tell the truth are, to me, untrustworthy in general. If they lie about one thing, why would they not lie about something else?

            The link that Jim posted with the export figures is more remarkable for what it DOESN'T contain than what it does. Clearly they are carefully picking only those examples that will support their position. Why? Very likely because their position is a fantasy.